LOWDEN -- Friends and supporters of the Walla Walla Valley's newest historical site are holding a party Saturday to celebrate progress.
The Frenchtown Rendezvous will mark the opening of the Frenchtown Historic Site with music, dancing, displays and talks. The event will begin at 3 p.m. and include a salmon bake, auction and cultural gathering. Tickets are $25.
The event will also mark years of work by members of the Frenchtown Historial Foundation who, with the aid of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, have sought to preserve the site of the 1855 Battle of Walla Walla and the St. Rose Mission and cemetery, established in 1876.
Work to build a road, trails and place signs marking significant spots began earlier this year after foundation members held a groundbreaking ceremony next to the monument that has marked the location of the pioneer cemetery.
About 10 miles west of Walla Walla along Old Highway 12, the 27-acre site is a central portion of where the Battle of Walla Walla occurred and the mission and cemetery were later placed. But along with those events, there are actually many other stories to tell at the site, said Michael Davidson, executive director of Tourism Walla Walla.
These include how the terrain and geology of the Walla Walla Valley were shaped, the history of the native peoples who came to form the Walla Walla, Cayuse and Umatilla tribes and the founding of Frenchtown by settlers with the Hudson Bay Company.
Present-day celebrations date from at least 1933 when the "first modern rendezvous" was organized by Frank Munns, who wanted to protect the history of the cemetery and St. Rose Mission. Efforts to create a new historical site continued through the years, but passed a major milestone this year when the foundation received title to the site from Alfalfa LLC, the corporation developing Wine Valley Golf Club that owned the land.
"Our goals have been to protect the site from development, replant it with native grasses, then make it accessible to the public and make it an interpretive site," said Dan Clark, a foundation member.
Andy Porter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8318. Check out his blog at blogs.ublabs.org/randomthoughts.
Events scheduled for Saturday's rendezvous are:
3 p.m. -- Rendezvous opens, displays and auction items.
3:30 p.m. -- Fiddle band.
4 p.m. -- Opening talks by Sam Pambrun and by Chief Carl Sampson, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.
5 p.m. -- Talks by historical characters.
5:30 p.m. -- Invocation by Armand Minthorn and the Rev. Michael Fitzpatrick. Buffet dinner begins.
6:15 p.m. -- Opening of Frenchtown Historical Site by Frank Munns, Frenchtown Historical Foundation, and Mike Denny, naturalist.
6:30 p.m. -- Live auction.
7 p.m. -- Music and dancing.
Tickets are available for $25 at Destination Walla Walla, 26 E. Main St. in Walla Walla, Great Pacific Wine and Coffee Co., 403 S. Main, Pendleton, or from members of the Frenchtown Historical Foundation.
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