By editorial board • 

Sheridan needs a community festival in one form or another

“It’s coming down to the wire. Everyone is pulling their hair out trying to make sure we pull this off. It’s neat to see the enthusiasm and all the hard work will pay off.”

That was Wendy Bird speaking to the News-Register in 1999 about the pending revival of the summer Sheridan Days festival, following a four-year absence.

She was right. Thanks to hard work put in by Bird and numerous colleagues, Sheridan continued to shine on the third weekend of June, kicking off summer in the most homegrown of fashions. 

After 20 years, Bird announced last week she and her volunteer committee were hanging it up. Fittingly, the murmurs of disappointment were drowned out by a wave of praise for Bird and her fellow volunteers.

It’s difficult to understand the energy and sacrifice required to plan a festival until you’re in the trenches, soliciting sponsorships, organizing competitions and signing carnival contracts, vendor agreements, permit applications and insurance policies.

But the results are equally as rewarding. Creating a crescendo of community spirit is a fulfilling act, which is why our area supports so many long-running and successful events. 

Yamhill County has witnessed its small-town community festival lineup ebb and flow over the decades.

This year, McMinnville’s multi-generational Turkey Rama narrowly survived the chopping block. Last year, Amity’s annual Pancake Breakfast was imperiled until the fire district agreed to take the reins from the Valley Women’s Club, whose ranks were thinning and aging.

News-Register archives are filled with festivals that failed for good, among them the once-robust Dayton Buckaroo. Today, Old Timers Weekend, which includes a popular chicken barbecue, serves as the town’s annual gathering of young and old. 

When Turkey Rama veered close to cancellation, we argued it’s more important to stage something meaningful that slavishly replicate what was done in the past. Sheridan should take that advice to heart, as the range of events tied to Sheridan Days may be too daunting for most individuals and groups.

Whether interested parties seek to replicate the traditional, host a stripped-down version or conjure up a new one,  the important thing is for the West Valley community to provide some vehicle for locals to gather, swap stories, meet neighbors, attract visitors and have a great time.

Maybe it will happen next year, maybe a few years down the line, but here’s betting Sheridan will eventually host an annual celebration again.


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