Chamber Music Northwest Summer Festival Portland Oregon

Yamhill County calendar: Assume it’s canceled

Things are changing daily, but most local art and cultural events have been closed or postponed because of COVID-19.


The response to COVID-19 in Yamhill County, as elsewhere in Oregon and around the country, is moving almost too quickly to track. Already, we’ve had one case reported in the area. By the time I finish writing this, something likely will have changed. By the time you finish reading it, unanticipated developments may have added another brick in the wall of our new normal.

“Call Me,” by Susan Kunitsky (oil, 8 by 10 inches), on display at The Gallery at Ten Oaks, is an apt image for our social-distancing times.

Right now, the new normal means this: Assume it’s canceled, regardless of what “it” is. Nevertheless, you should check websites or call ahead to make sure, because as of this writing, not everything is canceled. So far, some of the local cultural scene’s biggest COVID-19 casualties include:

  • The 12th annual Newberg Camellia Festival, an all-day celebration of Newberg’s official flower and its Asian origins. The Chehalem Cultural Center has traditionally played a key role in organizing it in partnership with Chehalem Parks and Recreation District. Originally set for April 19, the event is canceled.
  • The Terroir Creative Writing Festival, scheduled for April 18, has been postponed. Organizers are working with the host site, Chemeketa Community College’s McMinnville campus, to nail down a new date.
  • Gallery Theater in McMinnville late Monday made the agonizing decision to postpone Friday’s opening of its latest black-box show, Proof. David Auburn’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play was set to run three weekends in the approximately 70-seat arena theater. As with everything else, this is an unfolding story, and the theater is updating the public on both its website and Facebook page.
“That Owl in the Kimono,” by Helvi Smith (acrylic 49 by 14 by 2.5 inches) at The Gallery at Ten Oaks
  • A reception planned for The Gallery at Ten Oaks‘ featured artists Susan Kuznitsky and Helvi Smith has been postponed, although the gallery remains open and Kuznitsky’s pastels and oils and Smith’s “paintestries” are hung and available for viewing and purchase. Also, the McMinnville Public Library’s monthly poetry night in the gallery scheduled for early April has been canceled, and the library this week closed.
  • It’s too early in the pandemic (there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write) to say whether the Aquilon Music Festival will bring opera to Yamhill County this summer. Last week, the festival acknowledged the crisis and advertised a livestream event to be held last Sunday, but that event also was canceled.
  • For the moment, at least, Coming Attractions movie multiplex in McMinnville remains open. A letter by company president Al Lane indicated that staff have ramped up safety procedures with sanitizing and that they are monitoring the situation.
  • Locally owned bookstore Third Street Books finds itself in the epicenter of a lively restaurant district that is effectively shut down. Owner Sylla McClellan last week announced that the bookstore would offer free home deliveries. Those continue, with porch deliveries in the McMinnville ZIP code available Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and plans to expand countywide one day a week. Store hours have been reduced to 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. “I have never spent so much time thinking about public health and the impact on our economy that it can (and will) have on my business,” McClellan wrote on the shop’s Facebook page. “The news is changing so fast I have a hard time keeping up.”

That’s the way it is in the northern Willamette Valley’s wine country. Here at the Yamhill County Oregon ArtsWatch desk, I continue to work, talking to local artists and cultural leaders even as the ground shifts beneath our feet and we settle in for who knows how long of this new normal.


This story is supported in part by a grant from the Yamhill County Cultural Coalition, Oregon Cultural Trust, and Oregon Community Foundation.

David Bates is an award-winning Oregon journalist with more than 20 years as a newspaper editor and reporter in the Willamette Valley, covering virtually every topic imaginable and with a strong background in arts/culture journalism. He has lived in Yamhill County since 1996 and is currently a freelance writer whose clients have included the McMinnville News-RegisterOregon Wine Press, and Indulge, a food-oriented publication. He has a B.S. degree in journalism from the University of Oregon and a long history of involvement in the theater arts, acting and on occasion directing for Gallery Players of Oregon and other theaters in Oregon.