PENDLETON - The Happy Canyon Night Show commemorates the Lewis and Clark bicentennial this year with an addition to its 88-year-old performance, giving the audience an expanded view of when the explorers stopped in Oregon.
Lewis and Clark were part of the pageant before this year, but briefly. They would meet the Native Americans, exchange gifts and be on their way. This year the famous men have the opportunity to watch a traditional Indian welcome dance, a game of sticks and then exchange numerous gifts, such as a canoe.
Happy Canyon show Director Allen Waggoner chose the new scenes after reading through the diary entries from Lewis and Clark.
"I picked those scenes in the diaries that I thought would best display in the show what happened," Waggoner said.
Calvin Ashbeck of Pendleton, who portrays Lewis during the show and has been a Happy Canyon participant for 31 years, said he looks forward to the additional scenes, not just because his character has a stronger part but because the audience seems to enjoy it.
"I listen to the audience and I listen to their response," Ashbeck said. "Just phenomenal ... the audience loved it."
Waggoner said the audience can expect more Lewis and Clark additions during the next couple of years.
"I've got a couple of ideas I've held back that I'll add in next year," Waggoner said.
Some Happy Canyon actors have been participating in the show their entire lives. It's a family affair for many. Leona Smartlowit has been participating for 68 years as a huckleberry picker in the opening scene. Her grandchildren, Mary, 5, Elizabeth, 15, and Walter, 23, also participate and have since they were babies.
"We enjoy it," Smartlowit said. "It's a family tradition for us."
Support personnel build up a tradition of participation too. Mary Finney, who has worked in the light booth high above the grandstands since 1997, and Doug Harris, who has done it since 1991, climb a tall ladder at the top of the structure and follow a long, wooden catwalk to the center lighting booth with the main spotlight.
"We have an incredible view of the show," Finney said. "We've all learned this stuff as we've gone along."
Harris said because all the technicians are volunteers, the only training is learning to climb the ladder and make your way down the catwalk.
The Happy Canyon Night Show will continue tonight and Saturday at 7:45 p.m. in the Happy Canyon Arena, followed by the Happy Canyon Dance and Casino in the adjacent Convention Center. Admission to the show is $6-$10 for grandstand seats and all tickets include admission to the dance after the show.