By Andrew Kilstrom • Andrew Kilstrom • 

Mac gets its own music fest

The Builders and The Butchers
The Builders and The Butchers
Keaton Collective
Keaton Collective

Among the UFO Festival, Turkey Rama, a short film festival and various wine events, McMinnville enjoys many community activities during the course of the year.

One event the city has always lacked is a true music festival. But on Aug. 10, it will remedy that with the Walnut City Music Festival, a Granary District showcase featuring bands from throughout the Northwest.

Tickets run $10 in advance or $15 at the door. They provide participants with hours of entertainment by a procession of 10 bands.

The headliner act alone is worth the price of admission, according to organizer Ossie Bladine of McMinnville.

“Honestly, the $10 or $15 is worth it just for the last band,” he said. “The Builders and The Butchers is really good. I’m glad we could get that band, because there’s a good buzz about it.”

Sky Bound Blue will kick off the festival at 1 p.m. It will culminate with The Builders and The Butchers, scheduled to complete its show at midnight. An after-party will follow with Tony Smiley, known as The Loop Ninja.

Dan Weber, The Weather Machine, Palace Fiction, The Hill Dogs, Lincoln’s Beard, Keaton Collective and Aan have also been booked for the event. The variety of bands and musicians guarantees a diverse blend of music, but folk and rock will predominate.

“The afternoon will start with kind of Americana country,” Bladine said. “Palace Fiction and The Weather Machine are kind of folk rock.

“Keaton Collective is the third-to-last band, and it features rock ’n’ roll with a little bit of country. Aan does experimental rock and The Builders and The Butchers a kind of folk rock.”

The idea for a local music festival germinated in the spring. Having launched CouvFestNW a couple of years ago in Vancouver, Wash., where he was living and working at the time, Bladine knew what it would take to get the Walnut City Music Festival up and running.

He created a nonprofit organization — the McMusic Foundation — to provide the platform. That way, he could more easily gain sponsorships and other forms of business support.

“The goal is to support music education,” Bladine said. “I want it to raise money for local scholarships, music camps and a long-term plan to create a musical instrument library where you could check out instruments.

“The cool thing about it is that it should be a self-generating thing. When we promote music education around the area, getting more kids into music, that will get more bands together, which should foster a music scene.”

After creating the nonprofit and launching a search for sponsors, Bladine went looking for a venue.

Kelly McDonald, the Granary District’s managing partner, immediately jumped on board. The two quickly went to work turning a plan into reality.

“It sounded like a great idea to me,” McDonald said. “We already do the brew fest here, and I thought about music and how we could reconfigure our outdoor plaza to make it work.”

The Granary District has been supporting a handful of full-time vendors complemented by a broad array of part-time vendors organized around a Saturday market concept. McDonald is trying to make the district a full-time marketplace in every sense of the word.

The centerpiece is the Grain Station brewery, pub and restaurant. It’s a joint venture of McDonald and veteran brewer Mark Vickery, fresh off a long and high successful run as brewmaster at McMinnville’s Golden Valley.

In addition, McDonald has inked deals to bring in a cafe, meat market, seafood market, produce vendor and coffee roasting and brewing venue. That’s on top of half-a-dozen food vendors retained from the Public Market. 

The festival will serve to showcase all the work he has invested in the transformation, McDonald said. Though work might not be completely finished by Aug. 10, he said, festival-goers will get a good look at the space’s new features.

“The timing is almost perfect to launch what we’re doing here,” he said. “We probably won’t be completely finished, but we’ll have something.”

He promises the festival will be family-friendly, and will feature an array of food options, including burgers, pizza and hot dogs. It will include children’s activities and sponsors booths, he said.

The main stage will be set up toward the back of the parking lot. The action will move to a smaller stage inside the Grain Station for the final act of the night, but the other bands will play outdoors.

Seating is limited, so festival-goers are encouraged to bring their own chairs. The venue features plenty of space spectators can stake out.

Bladine hopes the festival comes off without too many problems. He envisions the Walnut City Music Festival evolving into a weekend-long event if it is well-received in its inaugural one-day version.

He compared it to Willamina’s Wildwood Music Fest, a three-day campout featuring 19 bands.

“I think this will be a good complement to Willamina’s festival,” Bladine said. “That’s kind of like a rural campout festival and this an in-the-city festival.

“There’s plenty of talent in the region. There’s no reason why we can’t have a great music scene in Mac.”

If you go

Tickets are on sale for $10 in McMinnville at the News-Register and The Vortex, and in Newberg at Rendered Design and Screen Print and Chehalem Valley Dance Academy.

Tickets can also be purchased at the festival gates in the Granary District the day of, Aug. 10, for $15.

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