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Jeb Bladine: Ghost of the ‘Gut’ lures us downtown

The ghost of the Dragging the Gut Festival must have wandered onto Highway 18 Tuesday morning as some kind of eerie apparition, luring that hapless semi-tractor convoy off its route and into downtown McMinnville.

Reportedly headed to Neskowin, the caravan carrying a double-wide mobile home must have mistakenly taken the McMinnville bypass instead of completing the bypass. Maybe re-routing onto Lafayette Avenue looked like an excessively long way around, so down Third Street they came.

One smaller rig made it through, but the other driver’s huge cargo was snapping tree limbs and strings of tree lights all the way to Evans Street. Fortunately, he stopped there before ripping out the Online Northwest fiber lines.

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Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

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That Third Street block became a mall, entertaining a jovial downtown crowd and a large contingent of police, fire, public works and Water & Light personnel. After an hour, officials guided the driver on a slow backup to Johnson Street; no doubt, transport company Modtranz Inc. of Idaho drew a fine plus charges for the inconvenience and damages.

Meanwhile, that festival ghost is rematerializing this weekend as Cruising McMinnville, a one-day affair with Saturday’s car show and traditional downtown cruise. The original event, going into its ninth year, was canceled by founder Ruben Contreras after his debts to the city from last year’s event threatened approval of 2018 permits.

The festival website carries this large headline: “The 2018 Dragging the Gut Festival Has Been Canceled … Our regrets this was necessary. Thank you for your past support.”

Organizers of Cruising McMinnville are being careful to avoid any infringements on copyright and trademark rights associated with the Dragging the Gut Festival. Acknowledging controversy from the festival’s sudden demise, their Facebook page notes:

“Cruising McMinnville members will not disrespect, trash, or speak ill of those who’ve come before – it’s about having fun, supporting McMinnville and its downtown, seeing old friends and meeting new.”

It’s also about memories, as expressed in a 2008 letter we published from Ron Allen:

“I am reminded of how the sand doesn’t stop flowing through the hourglass … Gone are the Rocket burgers and moon rings at the Rocket Cafe, banana cream pie at the Palm Café … the times our rock band played at the Teen Center and we dragged ‘the gut’ down Third Street …

“That sand slows for no one … I ask my friends to keep Turkey Rama, keep Third Street the same, and let your grandkids drag the gut.”

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

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