June 25, 2002 11:00 pm

By T.L. Petersen

Observer Staff Writer

NORTH POWDER — This community, sitting alongside a lonely stretch of Interstate 84 about 20 miles north of Baker City and separated from the rest of Union County by Ladd Canyon, is ready to have a very good weekend.

The normally quiet streets of a North Powder summer will be alive and busy as hundreds of visitors and former residents arrive to celebrate 100 years of community life straddling the Oregon Trail.

For months, North Powder residents have been preparing for Saturday's centennial.

High school students have helped to build a new community gazebo band stand, replacing one that graced the town in the early years of the 20th century.

Other children have helped to plant flowers, even as older residents have found bits and pieces of history tucked away in closets, sheds and garages.

The final details are being dealt with this week and by Saturday morning all will be ready to go for a full day of activities.


Start a visit to North Powder with good food at the annual All-School Annual Reunion Breakfast, served from 8 to 11 a.m. at Powder Valley High School.

After breakfast, pick out a spot to watch what promises to be the biggest parade in North Powder's history.

Those who want to participate can join the parade line-up at Evans Corner at 9:15 a.m. The parade heads to the town center at 10 a.m. with flags flying, special guests and lots of laughs.

As the parade winds to a finish, a day of softball gets under way at 11 a.m. at the school. With about 10 teams, the games will continue into the evening.

To trumpets, country music and singing, the centennial celebration is officially marked with a noon invocation and mayoral proclamation at the new community gazebo across from the post office and near the library.

Entertainment at the gazebo and downtown begins right after the parade.

Craft and food booths, exhibits of antique cars, tractors and engines, a full afternoon of music and theatrical performances, a petting zoo, craft-making opportunities, old-fashioned games and rides on antique fire engines and horse-drawn carriages around town are all part of turning back the calendar for a day of simple enjoyment.

Highlights at the gazebo during the afternoon include a 1:45 p.m. children's theater presentation of the "Three Billy Goats Gruff Go Calypso," and a 3 p.m. historical presentation, "A Piece of Life on the Oregon Trail." For a complete gazebo schedule, check Friday's Show & Tel in The Observer.


Something for everyone is the guiding principle for the centennial celebration.

Residents have put together a temporary museum downtown that will share space with a quilt show, providing a pleasant space to slow down and view old photographs and surprising finds of times past.

As the day progresses, food lovers can compete in a bake-off, or a Dutch oven cook-off contest. If the contest is too much, plan to stop by for a few Dutch oven lessons.

Still hungry? Local FFA students will be serving Glorious Barbecued Beef from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the school.

During the day, horseshoe pitching, volleyball and other family games will offer a chance for some friendly competition for old and new friends.

At 7 p.m., people can head to the gazebo, where contra dancing lessons will be given just prior to the start of the evening dance at 8. Music will be provided by David and Carla Arnold and friends.

A grant from the Union County commissioners helped community volunteers build the gazebo band stand.

"I remembered the band stand that used to be the focus of community events when I was young. We thought that building a new one would be an appropriate and useful addition to the town," said Cheryl Martin, one of the centennial's organizers. Martin recently learned that her great-great-great grandfather, L. S. Kelsey, was a leader in getting the original band stand built in 1906.

Martin hopes that everyone can make it to North Powder to help the community celebrate Saturday.

"We've planned a memorable day. Now all

we need is people to enjoy the fun — and good weather."