May 28, 2003 11:00 pm

The time has come to start filling in the summer calendar. Union and Wallowa counties' community festivals kick off this weekend with Island City's Hog Wild Days.

Travel prognosticators are saying that people are planning to stay closer to home this year for vacation due to the economy and security concerns. Why not fit a few of our local celebrations into the old vacation schedule? Something will be happening almost every weekend throughout the summer.

ISLAND CITY traditionally launches Northeast Oregon's summer celebrations. Hog Wild Days offers plenty of activities and an almost unmatched assortment of flea market finds and other kinds of booths — not to mention a parade, a train, a fun run and other activities to keep families entertained.

Following right on the heels next week will be Union's Eastern Oregon Livestock Show, the oldest continuous show in the Northwest. The popular event begins with 4-H and FFA competitions, to be followed by a carnival, parade, PRCA rodeo and parimutuel horse racing. The stock show is one of the area's largest events. If it's been awhile since you've ventured to the stock show to play the ponies or see the rodeo, consider a visit to Union next week. You won't be disappointed.

THE FOLLOWING WEEK attention turns to Elgin, where a full day of activities is planned as part of Riverfest (June 14). The Wallowa Valley Festival of Fine Arts will be June 13-15 in Joseph. Enterprise's Summer Festival will coincide with the hugely popular and successful Oregon Mountain Car Cruise in Joseph June 20-21.

In July, Imbler hosts Union County's Fourth of July parade and La Grande provides the fireworks display, Wallowa Lake holds a fireworks display and Lostine has its renowned flea market. Elgin presents the popular Elgin Stampede July 10-13 and Union offers up the Catherine Creek Rodeo July 18-19. The Nez Perce homecoming TamKaLiks is July 18-20 in Wallowa, Union offers its Grassroots Festival July 19, and Joseph dishes up a taste of the wild West with Chief Joseph Days July 24-27.

THINGS WON"T SLOW down for August's so-called dog days. County fairs, the Bronze, Blues and Brews festival in Joseph, the Cove Cherry Festival and the Oregon Trail Fiddle Contest in La Grande are all on tap. September brings Celebrate La Grande, Hells Canyon Mule Days and Alpenfest.

The point is, our area has plenty to offer when it comes to community festivals and gatherings. Hardly a weekend goes by when one community or another isn't celebrating something. Some of the events are very local and some of them are designed to attract tourists as well as locals. But all provide a certain taste of what life in Northeast Oregon is all about — celebrating a great place with great people.