Traditions are as much a part of Wallowa County as the mountain, the hayfields and herds of cattle.

Last week, Shannon McNerney, Executive Director at Fishtrap, called me to let me know they are getting ready to break tradition.

Fishtrap’s signature Summer Fishtrap Gathering of Writers will move from the Wallowa Lake Methodist Camp where it has held forth for the past 31 years. Summer of 2019, the event will move to the Wallowa Lake Lodge.

Fishtrap will be taking over the entire grounds for the week, setting up its big tent, utilizing the rooms and cabins and more.

Shannon said Fishtrap leaves the camp with no hard feelings.

“It was a business decision,” she said.

Bottom line, well ... the bottom line for Fishtrap. Costs will be reduced in the new venue and the experience of writing on the shores of Lake Wallowa will be enhanced.

“Fishtrap is grateful for our long relationship with the Wallowa Lake Methodist Camp,” Shannon added. “They have been an important and valuable part of our work to promote clear thinking and good writing in and about the west for more than 30 years.”

This past summer, we had another tradition-break when Chief Joseph Camp announced its relocation to Fergi Ski Area. We have heard recently that there’s a possibility it may be moving back to the Buhler Ranch, where it was held for decades before the pending sale of the ranch last year, which caused the camp board to relocate.

Speaking of Fergi, Wallowa County recently approved $10,000 to update the ski lift safety system there. The lift is operated by the Joseph-Enterprise Lions Club and Eagle Cap Ski Club.

Fergi is another one of those beloved Wallowa County spots where tradition is as important as ever.

Fergi is subject to yet another Wallowa County tradition, mercurial winters. Some years there’s too much snow, some years too little. Who knows what this coming winter will bring, but skiers for sure are hoping for lots of snow.

Last week, we reported on another Wallowa County tradition coming to an end. MidValley Theatre Co. will be vacating its only home, the old Lostine gymnasium in Lostine, as the church that owns the facilities makes new plans for it.

It will be difficult for a lot of fans of the theatre to imagine productions being anywhere else, but as theatre aficionados say, “the show must go on.”

I’ve worked with many community theatre groups over the years, some of which had nice dedicated performance spaces and others that had to strike deals with churches, schools and wherever for space. Both can be made to work; however, there’s no denying that having a home of your own is a big plus for a theatre company.

In this instance, MidValley will be creating the next chapter in its long tradition of fine community entertainment.

It was Heraclitus, the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, who said, “the only thing that is constant is change.” To paint a word picture, he also said, “no man ever steps in the same river twice.”

I’m often told that people in Wallowa County “hate change,” but I have observed that change that makes sense is embraced and welcomed by most. I think what Wallowa County residents dislike is “change for the sake of change.”

I’m not a big fan of that myself.


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