SHANIKO’S SCHOOLHOUSE will be among the historic buildings on display during Shaniko Days, the first weekend in August. A wide range of activities are planned during the 28-year-old event. Chronicle file photo
Shaniko SHANIKO — Shaniko Days, always on the first weekend of August, carries the theme “The Celebration of Water” this year.
Most activities start Saturday; however, this year a new activity is offered for Friday campers. Friday night, H.C. Wells, author of the “Time To Tell” series, will sponsor Family Movie Night at dusk, providing snacks and a family friendly video for children.
In a recent blog post, H.C. likened Shaniko to a popular kid’s movie. Bring a chair and some blankets to enjoy the show displayed outdoors on a historic buildings.
Saturday morning a parade ushers in Shaniko Days at 10 a.m. This is an excellent time to catch the first glimpse of the many activities of the day, such as the gunfighters or a wagon full of children. The Volunteer Fire Department livens up the parade, safety vehicle lights flashing, while the Wasco County Sheriff and Color Guard lead the parade. Some visitors make unique appearances.
Right after the parade is a performance of long standing tradition. Only once in 27 years the Mud Springs Gospel Band has not performed. They continue to delight Shaniko’s visitors. Later in the day the Sunshine Exchange Cloggers, also a tradition, will make feet want to move as they present a historic mountain tradition.
At high noon, a gunfighter showdown sets the stage for the food: The barbecued beef cooked in the pit for 10 hours, served with fixings for $8.50. This part of the event is the major fundraiser for the City of Shaniko. Visiting re-enactors help out serving the food and enjoy seeing the faces of those who have come to town for the weekend.
Raffles, a cake walk, school activity, and vendors have also been consistent activities throughout the years. This year’s vendors include, but are not limited to: handcrafted jewelry, dog coats, garden items, fiber-crochet-knit items, paintings, wildlife and Oregon scenery photography, H.C. Wells: author of the “Time To Tell” series, Italian Ice, Mountain Man trading post, hats, antiques, rocks, stones, feather and leather designed art, walking sticks, canes and maybe some baked goods.
The big day (Saturday) finishes with a dance in the street. This year, “Dust & Thirst” will be performing from 8 to 10 p.m. The raffle grand prize (usually a $200 Visa gift card) will be drawn at 9 p.m. You do not need to be present to win.
Shaniko history sometimes gets romanticized in this unique Old West setting. One museum is always open to provide good solid facts about the town’s history. Shaniko’s mural project is making progress. They are short and sweet history lessons like, “Why Settle A Desert?” “Sheep and Sheepmen,” and “The Train Is Coming.”
Other displays feature themes about the Townsite Company, Incorporation, and Transportation, the Warehouse Companies, and some of Shaniko’s Founding Pioneers.
Shaniko Days was established in 1985 to celebrate the new water system. The town has since continued the celebration of that system and the historic spring water that runs through it. This year we celebrate for the 27th year. Vendors are welcome. See the website for the vendor application.
Camping is always free along the streets of Shaniko, or just come for the day.
For more information, call the event line 541-489-3434. There is lodging in the area and a leisurely drive across the high desert will give you a taste of the days when freight wagons traversed and sheep littered the landscape.