Toppenish will add to its reputation` as Washington’s City of Murals when a dozen artists gather there Saturday, June 5, to collaborate on a new mural during the town’s Mural-in-a Day festival.
Toppenish, a small western agricultural town in the Yakima Valley off U.S. 97 in the Yakama Indian Reservation, celebrates its heritage of Old West art every year with a parade, beer garden, musical entertainment, and, of course, the painting of a mural.
The tradition began in 1989 when the state granted money to rural towns to help celebrate the state’s centennial. Toppenish used the funds to enable local artists to paint a mural, 14 feet by 40 feet, on a wall in downtown Toppenish to honor the area’s agricultural history. The event was such a success that painting a mural every year has become an annual community event, with visitors invited to what the town calls a “festival based on watching paint dry.”
This year’s event will begin at 10 a.m. Friday, June 4, with the Yakama Nation Cultural Center anniversary parade. Then, visitors may view the Native American art collection at the Yakama Museum for free, take a mural tour in a horse-drawn wagon or visit the Northern Pacific Railway Museum and the American Hop Museum, which focuses on the hop industry. There will be a beer garden and steak feed in Pioneer Park in the afternoon and evening, and lead artist Gary Kerby will begin preparing the paints and cartooning the mural concept on panels in the park next to the Visitors’ Welcome Center.
A dozen or so artists will convene at the site Saturday morning to begin painting in a race to finish the mural before dinner. Meanwhile there will be art, crafts and food booths, a beer garden and fiddlers to entertain visitors.
Other attractions in the area include winery tours, Fort Simcoe State Historic Park, an agricultural museum and fly-fishing on the Yakima River. Accommodations for RVers are available at the Yakama Nation RV Park and Resort.
For more information, contact the Toppenish Chamber of Commerce by calling (800) 863-6375 or visit toppenish.net
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