JOSEPH — Seven organizers of next year’s Wallowa Mountain Cruise met Tuesday, Dec. 17, in Joseph to begin work on a successor to the Oregon Mountain Cruise of the past 30 years — and to dispel rumors that the June event is defunct.
The cruise, which is set for June 12 and 13, is a gathering of classic automobiles with everything from Model Ts to muscle cars that draws entrants from all over the region. Included are various contests on the best cars, a dinner, parties and the opportunity for local vendors to show — and sell — their wares in Joseph.
The name change comes because Chuck and Pam Garrett, who ran the event for three decades, decided that this year’s cruise would be their last.
“They were just tired,” said Jude Graham, of the Joseph Chamber of Commerce, which has taken up the organizational reins.
But this year, organizers are plagued with a new dilemma. They’re both short of funds and information on what was done in previous years.
“Chuck has been wonderful in helping” with the transition to new organizers, Graham said. “But some of the stuff has been lost in ‘mystery’ land.”
She was referring to documentation on past efforts, in particular a list of classic car owners in Wallowa County, which she hopes to be able to retrieve or compile anew.
One of the primary areas the organizers began work on was attracting volunteers to head the various elements involved, such as advertising, trophies, games, food and entertainment. Only about half of the approximately 20 categories have chairmen and none have co-chairmen. Another 15 or so volunteers will be needed to assist the chairmen, Graham said.
Another primary need is funding. Car show entrants will be charged a $75 entry fee – the same as last year. But organizers are also beginning to seek sponsors to raise additional funds. They agreed to add a $1,000 sponsorship to the $500, $250 and $100 sponsorships from the past.
“All we can do is ask,” Graham said.
A few decisions were made at last week’s meeting. The theme of “It’s all about cars and fun” was agreed upon, as well as a 1950s costume theme of the movie Grease.
“We could dress as the Pink Ladies,” organizer Pearl Sturm said, referring to one of the female “gangs” from Grease.
Although they don’t plan to prohibit vendors not related to automobiles, car-related vendors will be the ones organizers hope to focus on, given their tie to the event. A fee for setting up a vendor’s booth has yet to be decided upon. Also yet to be decided upon are a menu for the dinner and entertainment, although several suggestions were considered for each.
“It they come to show their merchandise, they should pay” for the opportunity, Sturm said.
Graham said a cap of 250 entrants will keep the event at a manageable level. A registration deadline of late April will be set.
The organizers agreed to hold their next meeting at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 16 at the Kokanee Inn at 700 S. Main in Joseph.
For now, organizers are eager to draw volunteers to head the various elements of the cruise and to get information on previous years’ cruises.
To volunteer or to get more information, call Graham at 503-781-5545 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The event also has a website and a Facebook page.