September 28th, 2020

5 McMinnville Summer Highlights + 2 Things We’re Looking Forward To

The time has come for another turning of the wheel.  As the nights grow longer, and the sunrise brings a crisp chill, we prepare ourselves for entering the year’s dark season.  Saying farewell to summer is always bittersweet, but even more so this year, when so much of the fun that we usually enjoy was canceled or altered beyond recognition.  Regardless, we managed to make some really special memories in McMinnville.  Here are some of our favorites:

#5.  Murals and Sidewalk Art: So much art popped up this summer in McMinnville!  El Rancho Market commissioned a mural painted by Salem artist, Nacho Art(e), who said he was inspired to paint a “Mexican painting to remember our land that saw us born”.  

Fresh Paint: Photo courtesy of Nacho Art(e)

Geraldi’s hired celebrity artist Natalie Fletcher to paint a mural at their back entrance that offers a great photo op for those of us who have always dreamed of being a pizza angel.  

Natalie Fletcher basks in her pizza angel glory. Photo courtesy of Natalie Fletcher.
Photo credit: Mark Rolff

Local artist Mitch Horning mounted a new mural, McMinnville Crest, on the back of the Grain Station stage in the Granary District.  

Artists Mitch Horning and Thea Gahr install McMinnville Crest

Some of the funnest art though, is the 6 feet themed art on many of the sidewalk corners downtown, painted by Natalie Fletcher and Jesse McFerran.  These, and McMinnville Crest were commissioned by Visit McMinnville.

Natalie Fletcher and Jesse McFerran paint on a hot night during
McMinnville Dine Out(Side). Photo credit: Timothy Sofranko

#4.  Wine Country Pride: The first annual Wine Country Pride was everything one could hope for, considering it occurred during the middle of a global pandemic.  Participants and virtual guests from Yamhill County and beyond rallied for the occasion, which was kicked off by a pride parade in Newberg (streamed virtually), and followed up with an energetic Picnic Fundraiser Performance at Remy Wines

Strike a pose! Photo courtesy of Remy Drabkin. Photo credit: Zachary Alan Goff 

The latter was attended by a small, socially distanced audience of LGBTQ+ folks and allies, and those of us who weren’t quite so lucky to be there in person, enjoyed the performances from our couches at home.  The amusing and sometimes self-deprecating emcee, Remy Drabkin kept the audience engaged and introduced each drag queen performer prior to their lip sync performance, and encouraged everyone to make use of the virtual tip jar for the queens (‘cause they slayed!).  

The raffle (which supported PFlag Newberg), featured all sorts of great items and packages from wine country businesses.  If you missed out, the performances can still be watched here.  Event organizers, Kristin Stoller and Remy Drabkin ensure that next year,

“…Wine Country Pride will include even more of our minority and allied owned businesses and organizations.  We look forward to continuing our scholarship for local youth pursuing secondary education or vocational training and adding another layer of charitable giving.  2021 promises to be fabulous!  We encourage our neighbors to join in with their own events, fly flags, call for needed changes and speak out against injustice whenever and wherever it is seen. Black Lives Matter!”

#3.  The Performing Arts went virtual and/or Outside:  David Bates wrote in a blog posted in June that, “Art Finds A Way”.  And a pandemic was just the catalyst for local art purveyors to amp up their creativity to better reach their audiences.  

These theater enthusiasts didn’t let the rain scare them off! Photo credit: Beth Sobo Turk

The Gallery Theater of McMinnville kept their flame kindled with a series of virtual concerts performed by local folks most often seen on the Gallery stage.  And in August and early September, Gallery presented a series called Thursdays in the Courtyard, which offered vocal performances, monologues, short plays and readers theater.  While this was not quite the same as enjoying live theater as we have grown accustomed to, it definitely satisfied stage cravings of actors and audiences alike, giving us all that warm fuzzy feeling that only the act of creating together in community can induce.  

#2.  BIPOC Block Party: There’s nothing like a good cause to get folks to work together and make an event happen, despite COVID times.  While other businesses and organizations were canceling events left and right, Mac Market and co-organizers ramped up their game and provided a venue for regional BIPOC vendors to peddle their wares.  

Learning the story behind the wine… Photo credit: Timothy Sofranko

The event ran like a well-oiled machine, with waves of guests arriving during assigned time slots, and hoards of volunteers sanitizing and directing foot traffic like bosses.  Some of our favorite elements included periodic performances from DTW, delicious sangria crafted by Hibisbloom, and the conversation that ensued when Len, of Wealth Fashion Brand asked us what our idea of wealth is (what’s yours?).  

#1.  McMinnville Dine Out(Side): There are a select few occasions for Third Street to be closed;  usually it’s for annual festival days, such as the UFO Festival.  But this year, COVID (resulting in reduced indoor guest capacity) gave us an excellent excuse to spill out into a closed street: McMinnville Dine Out(Side) has been a dream come true for all of the romantic foodies who have daydreamed about closing down even a small section of Third Street for an intimate outdoor dining experience.  And it been happened nearly every weekend from July through the end of September.  

Patrons of R. Stuart & Co. enjoy a flight of wine during McMinnville Dine Out(Side)
Photo credit: Timothy Sofranko

Nearly two dozen businesses have been on the participation roster, and some retail shops have even adapted by staying open late.  Found Objects lined up Bit By a Fox Traveling Speakeasy to set up outside their store to take part in the fun.  And Crescent Cafe and The 411 Eatery & Lounge also set up a space for live music to be performed in the street.   This has been a lovely, yet surreal experience, and we can’t help but dream about McMinnville Dine Out(Side) making an appearance next summer too!  

Looking ahead:  Summer in McMinnville was pretty good this year, considering all of the things that had the potential to get us down.  But we welcome the changing season, the invitation to get cozy, and the chance to be more introspective for a while.  Here’s what we are looking forward to:

More virtual events to enjoy from the comfort of our homes:

  •  At no cost to the viewer, Linfield University Theater Department will be streaming this season’s productions on their YouTube channel.  We are particularly keen to see “A Night in New Orleans (circa 1917)”, which was filmed on the unused set of “Measure for Measure”, a production set to premiere last spring before the pandemic shut everything down.  
  • Also on our calendar of must-see streaming is McMinnville Short Film Festival’s screening of their top picks of award-winning films from the past 9 years of the festival.  They will show 8 films, which will amount to about 2 hours of viewing pleasure.  Pre-order your tickets for this fundraiser today.

The Holidays in Downtown McMinnville: 

The holidays are always a special time on Third Street.  The retail shops go all out decorating their storefronts, many of them offering cookies or cocoa in-store.  As our gift-giving goals ramp up, Third Street retailers always rise to the occasion, and putting together a McMinnville-themed gift basket for those out of town relatives becomes a snap. 

We especially love Small Business Saturday in Downtown McMinnville (the first Saturday after Thanksgiving), because the retailers and the McMinnville Downtown Association always work together to offer a coordinated shopping experience with special deals, raffle tickets and amazing prizes. 

But the icing on our tree-shaped sugar cookies is the people!  McMinnville is a friendly place all year, but there’s something about the promise of forthcoming yuletide gaiety that really gets folks to go above and beyond to connect with you, passing on warmth and goodwill.  The holiday season may look a little different this year, but we have it on good authority that it’s going to be bigger and better than ever.  Stay tuned here for more details about this as the holidays draw nearer.  

About the Author: Jamie Corff is the Marketing Coordinator for Visit McMinnville. It’s common to find her enjoying the arts in the form of theater, music, and the written word. She is also a passionate cheerleader for her beloved Downtown McMinnville and the people and businesses that are integral to its vibrancy.