By editorial board • 

Summer festival season offers opportunities to get involved

If you missed McMinnville’s annual UFO Festival, a mid-May fixture in these parts since 1999, not to worry.

The doings, which drew thousands of elaborately costumed space-alien look-a-likes to town, just serves as a warmup for a summer events calendar chock full of fun things to do and see — for locals and out-of-towners alike.

Many are slated to play out in Mac, but its neighboring communities all figure to get in on the action as well. In fact, Sheridan already weighed in last weekend with its Sheridan Hometown Days, complete with duck racing, quilt turning, poker running, horseshoe pitching, face painting and a kids parade.

This weekend features Make Music McMinnville at 14 venues around town; mural painting on downtown street corners; and the opening of Mac Fresco, a Dine Out(side) successor featuring a menu of weekend street dining, tasting and shopping, continuing through early fall at a record 47 venues.

Mac Fresco will be taking just one weekend off — Aug. 23-25, which is reserved for the annual Cruising McMinnville custom car showcase. That weekend, downtown dining tables will give way to one of the broadest arrays of historic and custom cars to be found anywhere in the Pacific Northwest.

The Farmers Market has resumed festive Thursday action for the season. And the city is about to commence its summer menu of movie showings and concert sessions.

The McMinnville Music Festival is planning to resume its annual three-day fest in August, following a one-year hiatus. Youngberg Hill will once again be sponsoring a summer concert series, and many other wineries and B&Bs will be featuring food, music and wine events of their own.

The Oregon International Air Show, Historical Society’s Hay Day, city’s Juneteenth celebration, Yamhill Enrichment Society’s Bounty of the County, Evergreen Museum’s Wine & Food classic, and, of course, Yamhill County Fair and Rodeo are among the many, many other Mac-centric offerings. As a special treat, at least the Firefighters’ Dance portion of Turkey Rama is due for revival this year, with other portions potentially to follow.

In other parts of the county, we can look forward to old standbys like Carlton Fun Days, Yamhill Derby Days, Willamina Old-Fashioned Fourth of July, Dayton Friday Nights, Willamette Valley Lavender Festival and county tangleboxing program.

There is no summer weekend in sight without at least two or three community options on tap, and a vast array of commercial Wine Country options in the offing as well.

This doesn’t all just fall into place, of course. Far, far from it.

In fact, the gradual demise of old favorites like Turkey Rama, greatly accelerated during the energy-sapping pandemic, is largely attributable to lack of sufficient volunteer support. It takes a massive infusion of effort to stage the more ambitious local offerings, and managing to sustain intensity of interest and investment as one generation hands the baton to the next can prove tricky.

On the other side of the equation, it also takes a high level of interest among locals and out-of-towners, and that can wane as competition intensifies and tastes change.

When the Sheriff’s Mounted Posse launched the Shodeo in 1948, it was the right event for the times. It’s doubtful that would still prove the case today, though we continue to salute horsemanship and our agricultural roots in other ways.

If you care about the sounds, sights, tastes, treats and other delights of the summer festival season, there are two ways you can contribute.

One, you can lend a hand in some area of particular background, interest or expertise. Among the vast array of local doings, there is a niche for almost any kind of contribution.

Two, you can buy tickets, show up and spend money. In doing so, you can typically expect to support worthy elements of the community and economy, share memorable times out with family and friends, and imbibe deeply in shared community spirt, making it a win-win-win triple-header.

One thing’s for sure: If we all sit on our hands, a lot of events we cherish will go by the wayside, and we will be decidedly the poorer for it.


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