Category Archives: To Dos

Things to do in the Coulee area

It’s Colorama week … Join the festival!

This is a big deal, really. It's Colorama! Don't tell me you've never heard of it.
This is a big deal, really. It’s Colorama! Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of it.

 

The state’s best rodeo, a carnival, rides, market in the park, hometown parade, race (and/0r) walk across Grand Coulee Dam, a beer tent, plus hundreds of miles of undeveloped beaches on crystal clear lakes.

Let’s see what am I forgetting … oh, a TON of fun to be had this week and weekend in the big coulee at Colorama.

Local residents and visitors will be treated to the 56th Annual Colorama Festival celebration, beginning Thursday with the opening of the carnival and ending Saturday evening.

Events include the Ridge Rider Pro-West Rodeo Friday evening and Saturday, the Colorama Parade at 11 a.m. Saturday, the vendor fair at North Dam Park, Friday and Saturday; helicopter rides Friday and Saturday, the Paradise Amusement Carnival, Thursday at 3 p.m. and Friday and Saturday; the sale of Colorama buttons and gear; and a beer garden under the tent at the tennis courts at North Dam Park.

A full schedule of Colorama events can be found in today’s special Colorama Festival section.

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Spilling water over the dam

For reasons unknown to me at the moment, the USBR is letting water flow over the top of Grand Coulee Dam right now. This is a fairly unusual event. That’s not just water, it’s money running over the top, in the form of revenue foregone by the BPA, which can’t sell electricity the dam doesn’t produce with that water power.
If you have a chance, pop down and see it.
The dam is almost a mile across, and the spill is about 300 feet.

Update
Seems that Lake Roosevelt has to drop right now to meet flood control goals. We wouldn’t want Portland to flood, after all. Here is info about current lake operations the USBR published yesterday:

The elevation of Lake Roosevelt was 1280.4 at 10 a.m. on April 9.

It is antipated the elevation will remain around elevation 1280.0 in order to reach the Biological Opinion operating objective of 1279.9 by April 10. Currently, Grand Coulee Dam is being operated to meet flood control elevations.

The flood control levels are the maximum elevation for Lake Roosevelt. Other factors such as power demand or supplying water downstream for fish can result in elevations under the flood control elevations.

The current flood control elevation is as follows:

April 30 – 1258.5 feet
This is only a prediction and can change due to weather events, power demand or other unforeseen power emergencies.
Lake level forecasts are updated by 3 p.m. each day. Please call 1-800-824-4916 for the updated forecast.

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The Visitor Center offers interactive fun

jackhammer
This kid thought the vibrating jackhammer was great fun.

The Grand Coulee Dam Visitor Center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The bottle-cap-shaped building below the dam offers new exhibits designed to entertain and educate with interactive features, such as the jackhammer above. A video game lets you fly right through the dam to explore its features. Hands-on generators let you light up a miniature grid, and you can see the workings of the hydropower units.

One activity needs three to five people (perfect for a family) who sit at a table and listen to the concerns (via prerecorded video) of the many and varied people with interests affected by how the Columbia River is operated. As each player votes on various decisions, the overall plan changes and you’ll find out what your preferences did to the other parties’ interests.

It’s a great Visitor Center with knowledgeable interpreters, plus frequent movies in an upstairs theater to explain history and functions of this multipurpose dam.

For more information, call (509) 633-9265.

Windmill art is a glimpse of area’s great asset: ingenuity

I’ve often said that the most enduring legacy from the boomtown days for this community remains a sense of ingenuity. Certainly that’s what marked the contributions of thousands of people who helped design and build the biggest hydroelectric dam in North America.

Emil Gehrke’s windmills, made of what most of us might have called junk, now stand as folk art at North Dam Park, a testament to inventiveness and creativity, and perhaps moving (literally) symbols of the modern ethic of “Reduce, Re-use, Recycle.”

 

Bull riding and concert series will feature talent from near and far

 

A series of free concerts is scheduled for North Dam Park and events center this month, starting on Friday, Aug. 17.

And the Wednesday night before that, bull riding fans can get their fix of “beer, burgers and bulls” in a special event at the Ridge Riders Rodeo Grounds.

The rodeo grounds open at 6 p.m., Aug. 15, for what could become a frequent event next year. Bull riding begins at 7 p.m.
Then on Friday night, a local rock group called Mister Meaner will take to the “stage” at the bottom of the grass amphitheater.
The very next evening a cool trio from Spokane, The 45s, will rock your Saturday night with a rockabilly sound. Think “The Stray Cats” and you’ll come to close to hearing this fun band.

The next weekend starts with a Friday night concert by Thirsty Perfect, a Coeur D’Alene, Idaho Christian rock band, sponsored by Faith Commu

 

nity Church. The next night Mister Meaner hopes the word will have spread, and you’ll bring your friends back for a good time.

Labor Day weekend kicks of Aug. 31 with a big-name band in the Pacific Northwest — Jr. Cadillac. Folks who gathered for their concert in the park last year had a great time, and said they wanted more.
Saturday night, Sept. 1, will see another encore from a band that proved popular last year. “33” bills itself as the loudest band in Spokane. By the way, we should do something to welcome back Joe Oliver that night, a band member originally from the coulee.

The series is sponsored by the Grand Coulee Dam Area Chamber of Commerce, which is advertising it across the state and paying for it with the help of tourism tax dollars from Electric City, Grand Coulee and Coulee Dam.