‘It Was a Magical Weekend’ at the Rhubarb Festival
The 800 granny fruit pies sold out in four hours. Food trucks ran out of fare. Savory bison
burgers on 400 donated brioche buns were devoured, as kids undaunted by chilly weather
cavorted on the water slide. Music blasted from speakers, and dads pushed strollers from booth
to booth. “It was a magical weekend,” said Jamie Donahue, executive director, describing the
Activity Center’s 13th annual Rhubarb Festival – a summer tradition that once again proved
irresistible for hundreds of local families.
More Vendors Accommodated
“We started signing up vendors in January,” she noted. “Requests came in for applications
before they were even ready, and available spaces were almost full by March. Fortunately, with
our newly asphalted parking lot, we’ve been able to accommodate more vendors. We envision
adding about 20 new spaces next year, and making the entire area more shoppable. And, due
to popular demand, we’ll offer lots of rhubarb items.”
Huge Role of Volunteers
Donahue credited Janice Delzer, event coordinator, for “taking on a huge role that included all
vendor communications. She even stayed in touch while in Hawaii on vacation! After some
seven months of work, Janice asked me when the festival was over, ‘what are we doing next?’
She did admit, however, that when first volunteering to help, ‘I had no idea what I was signing
up for!’” said Donahue, who also praised Lori Scott, volunteer coordinator, for her efforts.
“Our volunteers are the reason the Activity Center’s doors stay open, and without them, there
wouldn’t be a Rhubarb Festival,” Donahue emphasized. “For example, the ladies who make our
wildly popular pies had an especially challenging time this year. Because of the long winter,
rhubarb didn’t start growing until two weeks before the event, and we were only able to proceed
with our plans thanks to the generosity of people in the community. ‘Hey, I’ve got rhubarb in my
freezer. Need some?’ was typical.”
Dessert Samples Rescued
Another challenge Donahue and her volunteers faced was notification by the health department
– a few days before the weekend fundraiser – that because of rule changes since 2022, they
couldn’t stage the dessert contest – “one of our most popular attractions,” according to Donahue
— or sell samples. Fortunately, these issues were resolved in time, much to the relief of the
many confection connoisseurs.
Something for Everybody
“The versatility of this year’s vendors (including 25 new ones) really struck me,” Donahue said.
“They offered something for everybody — including a doggie bakery, woodworking creations,
plants, jams, jewelry, canvas paintings, and even bottle wine chimes.
One of the vendors, who helped organize the Bend Farmers Market, told us that she prefers to
be at the Rhubarb Festival – as she has so much fun! A typical promise — as made by Red
Baron after continuously smoking tri-tip and ribs in the parking lot to feed the hungry weekend
crowd – was “I’ll see you next year!”
Flying Canopies Averted
While wanting to thank everyone who helped make the event a success – including drink
vendors (“who really pulled through”), Terry Mowry (who organized all the entertainment), and
Franz Bakery (for its “how many do you need?” donation of burger and hot dog buns) —
Donahue couldn’t resist mentioning Ace Hardware.
“Ace provided two palettes-worth of 50-pound sandbags to help stabilize the vendor tents, which
can become parachutes, as happened last year due to gusts of wind that sent four canopies
secured with bricks flying through the air,” she recalled. “Fortunately, we were blessed with good
weather this time around.”
True Sense of Community
“There was such a warm feeling all day, with people laughing and smiling wherever I looked,”
said Donahue. “There was a true sense of community that I hadn’t seen since Covid, and a
sense of love for our little town. It made your heart happy.”
Brett Turner and his wife, Gina, own Grocery Outlet in La Pine, and he’s been a La Pine Activity Center board member since he was elected to the position in August of 2022.
“I decided to run for the board of directors because I wanted to step up and give back to the community and help Jamie and the Activity Center. Jamie has always been so supportive of my wife and I and our business in the past,” said Brett.
“We’ve given the Activity Center food and monetary donations since Grocery Outlet first opened in La Pine. We’re big supporters of the Rhubarb Festival, as well. In July we’re having a fund raiser called “Independence from Hunger” where people donate or buy food baskets for those who are struggling to make ends meet, and we split the profits from that fund raiser with the Activity Center, the Christmas Basket Association, and St. Vincent de Paul. Most grocery stores fund-raise during the holidays, but there are hungry people out there during the summer, too, so what we raise goes to help during that time.”
Brett believes the Activity Center is headed in a great direction right now.
“It’s a very important facility for this community, and I believe that this board of directors is doing a really good job. The money we’ve recently raised for the new kitchen remodel is huge; we’re securing grants and the future is very bright”
Brett and Gina have lived in La Pine since December of 2016 after coming here from California’s Bay Area.
“My wife and I were both store managers at Safeway and when Albertsons bought them out, we didn’t care for the new operation, so Gina moved on to Bed, Bath and Beyond as store manager. Then some friends told us about an opportunity to own a Grocery Outlet franchise. This is a very family-oriented company and they like couples as co-managers, so we looked into it, started the training program, and when this store was going to open we decided to buy it. We opened La Pine’s first Grocery Outlet in February of 2017.”
“We love the pace of life here in La Pine. Just being able to take a walk in the woods is so awesome. Life in the Bay Area was very fast and hectic, and there came a time when we realized we didn’t want that anymore.”
“We also love La Pine’s small town vibe. When we first moved here strangers would wave at us and we were taken aback, until we got to know the town better and realized that people still wave to strangers here! This community really pulls together when the time arises and we’re very impressed with that.”
“The Community Kitchen and St. Vincent de Paul organizations pick up food donations from us several times each week, so we’re here for this community and want to keep our dollars local. “
Debbie Kreps is the Monday front desk volunteer at the La Pine Activity Center, greeting those who walk through our doors and pointing them in the right direction for what they need
“I started out two years ago by volunteering at Bingo on Monday nights, and then just kind of worked into running the front desk,” says Debbie. “I usually just come in one morning per week, but I will fill in for others when needed.
Originally from Newberg, Oregon, she and her husband moved to La Pine a little over four years ago.
“I really like the climate in La Pine and we needed to get out of the city,” says Debbie. “We would come here camping every summer for about five years and one year we just decided that we didn’t want to go back home!”
Before retiring, Debbie worked in food service at George Fox University for 19 years, right up until the day before she moved to La Pine. Her husband, Ray, worked for Chrysler Corporation also for 19 years, and was retired for 10 years before they moved here. Now he is a substitute teacher in Gilchrist, La Pine and Bend.
“I love being here and meeting the people who walk through our doors,” says Debbie. “It’s nice to chat and get to know them and I’ve met some truly wonderful people here at the Center. “
Recently the La Pine Senior Center changed its name to the La Pine Activity Center, with the goal of promoting more exclusivity within the community. The Center is here to fill the needs of the whole community.
“From my experience working at George Fox University, I think it’s beneficial to have older people interacting with those much younger than themselves,” says Debbie. “Older people feel younger, more energized, when they’re around those younger than themselves. I think the mixture of seniors and younger people benefits them both. There’s so much more opportunity having this place be an “activity center” because it draws more people from our community in, and if a senior needs help, there are younger folks who can help them out; conversely, younger people can learn from their elder’s wisdom. It’s a win-win for both groups.”
“This Activity Center is an excellent place to come for an exercise class, have lunch three days a week and visit with people, and just get OUT. In the winter, people come here and get warm, sit, relax, read or watch the fire in the ‘living room” we have in the front of the building. It’s a great landing spot.”
It’s already June and that means Rhubarb Festival time! Volunteers in all areas are needed, so please contact me if you would like to help. We are already getting requests from local business to become sponsors in 2024, and have a waiting list of 10 or 11 vendors for this year because we’re full for vendor space!
Check our website and Facebook page in the near future for the dates and times of our Healthy Walking classes, which will be starting up again now that the weather is nice.
We need bingo callers! We only have one right now, so ladies, if you want to get your husband out of the house once a week, send him over here on Monday nights one or two times a month!
Our “Angel Wings” scholarship program has been going on for a couple of years now. If someone comes in the Center and they don’t have the funds to pay the $40 yearly membership fee, we have “Angel Wings” scholarships available so they can become an Activity Center member for a year at no cost. But we need more sponsors for this wonderful program, from individuals and businesses. I have received calls from mental health services who refer individuals to us that are suffering from isolation or loneliness, and they need a place for these people to go where they can interact with others and feel safe. We just awarded an Angel Wing scholarship the other day and this person has come into the center and has signed up to be a volunteer. She now feels like she’s part of something. So if you would like to become an Angel Wings sponsor, please let us know…there’s someone out there (and they don’t have to be a senior, by the way) who would really appreciate becoming part of our family! This is a confidential program and no one will know who is a recipient of this scholarship except for the person who receives it.
A big part of my job is to be an intermediary of sorts, connecting those in need to the resources that can help them. We’ve had people come in here who can’t pay their electricity bill, for example, and I’ve put them in contact with NeighborImpact, and they’ve gotten the assistance they needed. Or someone comes in here and says they’re a victim of a scam of some sort, so we help them contact the appropriate authorities. Seniors or not, we’re here to help those in our community who need help the most.
So why do YOU come to the Activity Center? What do you like most about what we offer? I just received a 100-piece blank puzzle with very large pieces that you can write a word on that reflects why you come here. We’re going to have people fill those pieces out, then glue them together and make a wall hanging that shows all the different reasons to come here. Keep a lookout for that in the near future!
Make sure to take advantage of the free presentations we hold during lunch occasionally. We now have a calendar listing a whole month of lunches at the Center (see page 3 of this newsletter) that shows which lunches have a presentation.
That’s it for now — see you at the Rhubarb Festival!
We’re gearing up for the Rhubarb Festival which will be held June 17 and 18 here at the Center. It’s our biggest event of the year, here’s an update of what’s been happening with this event:
We need volunteers to help make Granny Pies for the Rhubarb Festival. We have about 900 pies ready so far, but we usually have about 1200 for sale, so there’s still a lot of work to be done. Connie Burger and others are helping to finish out the year.
Sina Wallace Streeter donated two cases of the BIG cans of Crisco, which were badly needed. Thanks Sina!
This year’s Rhubarb Festival sponsors include: St. Charles: dessert contest; La Pine Community Health Center: entertainment; First Interstate Bank of Sunriver: rhubarb pies; MidOregon Credit Union: golf carts; Terry Mowry is organizing the entertainment; Dan Laibath keeps those beer kegs organized; Rusty Hoar takes care of security during the day; Denise and Dennis Sampson actually tape out our parking lot for vendor spaces; and Janice Delzer is in charge of coordinating all the vendors. We are FULL as far as vendor spaces, with 106, and 30 new ones this year!
NEW this year as a Rhubarb Festival sponsor is HD Botanicals! And they’re very interested in doing monthly informational sessions before or after lunch to speak about the benefits of cannabis for seniors.
We’re having pre-sales for rhubarb pies and T-shirts, so please give us a call starting this month to pre-order yours.
On to other news:
- If you need a medical device (wheelchair, walker, etc.) check here FIRST before going to rent or buy one. We have items you can either have for free or rent (such as knee scooters). Just give us a call – we have lots of medical supplies you may be able to get for FREE.
- We need volunteers to help deliver lunches to homebound seniors three times a week. Also needed are volunteers for the kitchen, front desk and events.
- Volunteers for Monday Bingo caller once or twice a month are also needed.
- Although Heart & Home Hospice has closed in La Pine, Partners In Care still has a presence serving the La Pine community with hospice, home health, palliative care, and transitions (non-medical, free resource-based program). They have a small office on Huntington Road not far from the Park & Rec building, but most of their team is out visiting patients in their homes throughout La Pine, so the office may be quiet. They work closely with the La Pine Activity Center! If you need them, call 541-382-5882.
- Get your stuff organized for our annual community-wide garage sale July 7 and 8, to be held here at the Center.
Lastly, I want to recognize Annette Langenstein, who produces our monthly newsletter. Annette is a graphic designer and writer who volunteers her time to sell and design the ads, write the articles, and lay out the newsletter each month. These sponsorship ads bring in much-needed funds, and with the closing of Wise Buys, this newsletter is more important than ever to our little community! Thanks, Annette, for all you do for us!