August 14, 2001 11:00 pm

By The Observer

Union County celebrates its pioneer history this weekend with Oregon Trail Days.

Events kick off with an Old Time Fiddle Contest jam session at 4 p.m. Friday in McKenzie Theatre in Loso Hall on the Eastern Oregon University campus. Then at 6:30 p.m., Tom Nash will present Oregon Trails, Oregon Tales, a combination of storytelling and music that highlights Oregons diverse history.

The Blue Mountain Barn Cats will fiddle up some bluegrass music and then the audience will have a chance to learn contra dance under the guidance of Bill Martin.

On Saturday some of the Northwests best fiddlers, ranging in age from 5 to 93, will compete. Preliminaries begin at 9 a.m. for the youngest competitors. The top five fiddlers from each of the nine divisions will be in the finals which start at 6 p.m.

To satisfy the eyes along with all that music, the Quilt Questers will mount their 11th annual quilt show in the Ackerman gymnasium at EOU from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Also on Saturday, the Star Promenaders will demonstrate the art of square dancing at Max Square at 2 p.m. and the Elks Lodge will host a bull-riding competition at the Mavericks Arena at 3 p.m.

Cove Cherry Fair

The Cove Cherry Fair on Saturday will come at the end of the three-day Cove Arts Festival. A pancake breakfast will be served from 7 to 11 a.m. and early risers can register for the fun-run at 7:30 a.m. The parade begins at 10 a.m. with the coronation of the Cherry Fairies court. Booths, games, performances, a farmers market and the cherry pit-spitting contest will keep visitors busy until the barbecued chicken dinner at 5 p.m., followed by hay rides, softball and contra dancing, all at the Ascension School.

Not to be outdone, North Powder will have its 11th-annual Old Oregon Trail Car Cruise on Saturday beginning with a cowboy breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m. Registration will be from 9 to 11 a.m. when the show and shine voting begins. The slow drag will be from 1 to 2 p.m., and then the soda pop cruise to Haines begins. A street dance with Steve Douglas and the Outsiders will provide rock music from the 1950s, 1960s and the 1970s starting at 4 p.m. Door prizes and raffles will add to the fun.

The Carson & Barnes Circus will be the icing on the cake with two performances in its five-ring big top, at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Sunday on Pierce Lane near the Union County Airport. Watch the elephants put up the tent at about

9 Sunday morning.

For information about Oregon Trail Days call the Union County Visitors Bureau at 800-848-9969 or visit the Web site at www.visitlagrande.com.