La Pine Frontier Days
About La Pine Frontier Days Association
La Pine Frontier Days has been around a loooong time …in some form or another…with the format you enjoy today being instituted around 1998 with the formation of the La Pine Frontier Days Association. Back in the “olden days” it wasn’t always a yearly event, but on the occasional 4th of July, someone would suggest a community wide get together to celebrate Independence Day, and a “critter” of some kind was presented for roasting and the crowd would arrive with side dishes and beverages. One year Ray Morehouse, aka “Trapper Sam”, brought a bear for the roasting pit. That is the tradition we honor with our current day “Western Style Pit BBQ”…now in it’s 10th year, and also now a tradition at the Frontier Days celebration. In 1976 Oren Robinson, then owner of the Highlander Motel, RV Park & Gas station, coordinated a “Bi-Centennial” celebration for the community. In 1986, Carol & Bob Shotwell started the yearly tradition of the “Last Frontier Days”. They brought in a few vendors and a “street dance” and then later started to bring entertainment from out of the area. I love to tell people of the year the dancers from the Fiji islands put La Pine on their tour of the Pacific Northwest. They just about froze their “leis” off as the temperature dropped into the 40’s for their nighttime performance. In those days the celebration included a classic car show and the very first “Newberry Explosion” chili cook-off. (Re-instituted in 2007 by the Frontier Days Association as part of their “Octoberfest”).
In 1998 a group of civic-minded individuals got together to form the “Association” in order to raise the funds needed to make the event sustainable and grow into the future. From that time it has grown from a handful of vendors, kids games, and assorted entertainments into a full-blown event! This year will have over 80 vendors (22 food vendors!), entertainment all nights as well as all throughout the days! The Parade always has over 60 entries; the Lawnmower Races just get more fun every year; the Dutch Oven-Cook-Off started 10 years ago as the very first IDOS sanctioned cook-off in the Northwest; and the Talent Show brings out entire community to cheer for the participants. Some years ago we instituted what we call our “mini Fair” with competition in Baked Goods, Preserves & Home Brew…as well as a showcase for the younger crowd in the Youth Fair…and our Art Show brings talented artists from miles around showcasing and selling their wonderful entries. And 5 years ago we were able to bring a small carnival that just rounds out the entire event! And, of course, let’s not forget the tremendous Fireworks Display that we put on the night of the 4th. We bring folks from the surrounding areas to watch because our “small town” display is so wonderful! And speaking of “small town”…with all of this growth we have managed to keep the flavor of an old-fashioned, down-home, small-town, 4th of July. Folks come from all over the country for reunions and gatherings that are centered around our celebration…they say they just love the “feel” of the town and our event.
The production of Frontier Days is now a year-long undertaking, and is fully supported by Sponsorships and donations from the community. A relatively small base of loyal volunteers puts on this entire event; they work long hours (particularly in the days just prior to the event) to ensure its success. As a fundraiser, we also have our popular “Crab Feed”…an all-you-can-eat crab fest that is held annually the second Saturday in March. Its growth has also been remarkable, this year to over 500 tickets, and folks come from all over the region just to attend and feast on our crab and other goodies!
Those folks back in 1998 had a vision, and it’s been my privilege to carry on that vision and foster it’s growth for over 12 years. More volunteers are always needed…and will be needed to keep the vision alive and thriving. It is truly the single largest event in the La Pine area; the economic impact is undeniable. My thanks to all those long past 4th of July revelers that started a tradition that has endured and will continue to bring smiles to the faces of it’s proud community.