Real West comes alive during Shaniko Days

<p>The Shaniko Shooters make their way to a gunfight during a past Shaniko Days event.</p>

The “real” West lives as one of Oregon’s ghost towns celebrates with a parade, gunfighters, music, a pit barbecue and raffles. Shaniko Days spans Friday through Sunday, with most of the excitement coming Saturday.

Shaniko is about 140 miles from Hermiston. To get to there, drive on Interstate 84 and take Exit 104 at Biggs Junction, then continue south for about 55 miles on Highway 97.

“Everyone loves a parade,” said Debra Holbrook.

For a quarter of a century, that’s been the first activity on the first Saturday in August each year in Shaniko. The parade gets rolling around 10 a.m., followed by a long-standing tradition of music provided by the Mud Springs Gospel Band.

“We look forward to seeing them this year to start off our second set of 25 years of Shaniko Days,” Holbrook said.

At high noon, a gunfighter showdown occurs, followed by a pit beef barbecue. The beef, which comes from the pit after slow baking in the earth for 10 hours, is $8 per person or two for $15 and $5 for children under 12. The barbecue serves as a fundraiser for the town’s needs, which over the years has included help with the town’s water system and volunteer fire department.

One other group, Holbrook said, that has made the famed ghost town as lively a place as any is the Sunshine Exchange Cloggers. The girls and occasional guy have not missed a year and according to dance instructor, Loy Samples, would not miss being in Shaniko. They will perform Saturday at 2 p.m. in downtown.

Throughout the years, raffles, a cake walk and vendors have been consistent activities during the event. There’s a spaghetti feed for $5 a plate beginning at 6 p.m.

A street dance will help close out the day as the sun sets Saturday. In addition, “Shaniko’s Got Talent” will be featured in the old schoolhouse. Anyone willing to pony up a small entry fee can share their special abilities beginning at 8 p.m.

Holbrook said the three-day event had more to offer on both sides of Saturday when there was lodging. For more information, go to or contact or 541-489-3446.

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