People are invited to head to Echo as the small town offers big fun during the holiday season.
“It’s kind of a quaint and historic little community,” said Diane Berry, city administrator.
Typically, more than half of the homes are decorated with at least a few strands of lights, Berry said. In addition, the city has added several light poles and free-standing displays from money through the Echo Benefit Plan.
“You can come over the hill and you can look down on Dupont Street and see all the lights,” Berry said about driving into town.
Also, Echo Ridge Cellars and Sno Road Winery are rolling out festive fun with Holiday Barrel Tasting. The event is Friday from 4-8 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. at both wineries (551 N. Thielsen St. and 111 W. Main St.).
Each venue will offer holiday wine deals and samples of future releases straight out of the barrel. Also, a gift basket workshop is available Saturday at Echo Ridge. People can create their own basket, filling it with wine and goodies from Alexander’s Chocolates and Smith’s Tiny Farms cheeses.
Additional holiday shopping is available during the Echo Parent-Teacher Organization’s annual holiday bazaar. A fundraiser to benefit students in the Echo School District, it includes handmade goods from local crafters, homemade desserts and a raffle. It is Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the school commons, 600 E. Gerone St.
For a chance to celebrate the season in song, head to Sno Road Friday, Dec. 15 from 6:30-9:30 p.m. for Christmas with John Wambeke & Students. The festive musical performance features the Hermiston man along with a number of his protégés. There is no cover charge for the all-ages event.
Another highlight of the holiday season are the annual concerts presented by the Inland Northwest Musicians orchestra and chorale. “The Spirit of the Season” is Friday, Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 16 at 4 p.m. in the Echo Community Center, 20 Bonanza St. The popular performances are free but reservations are required. To RSVP, contact 541-289-4696 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We’re doing a mix of seasonal music,” said RaNiel Dunn, program manager. “The chorale is performing some lovely pieces.”
In addition, the orchestra is offering a variety of songs, said Salli Ketchersid, publicity coordinator. Among the most familiar, she said, is “The March” (aka “March of the Toy Soldiers”) from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker Suite.”
Before renovations were complete at the venue, Berry asked for input regarding acoustics from R. Lee Friese, the group’s director. After playing at the May 2000 dedication, they arranged a holiday concert — and have returned each year.
In addition to the building’s great sound, Ketchersid and Dunn said Berry and her staff go all out in decorating.
“It’s different than just doing a concert in a school auditorium or gym,” Dunn said. “It makes it more intimate and festive.”
“From the big room to the hallways — it’s just Christmas everywhere,” Ketchersid added.
The holiday concerts, Berry said, are a way to give back to the community.
Whatever brings people to town, Berry invites everyone to pick up a ballot and vote for the best holiday displays.