05 August 2006

A Painted Sense of History

on horseback
Originally uploaded by Katherine H.

In central Washington as you travel along Highway 97 you will pass the small farming community of Toppenish. You will be tempted to just keep on driving, to continue on your journey and reach your destination, but a brief stop here to stretch your legs will be worth the time.

Highlighting the historical importance of the area, buildings throughout the downtown area showcase 69 murals that are thoroughly researched and meticulously painted – with one new mural being added each year. You’ll find a depiction of an early hop harvest, a round of an Indian stick game, migratory waterfowl, and a mother hanging out the wash among other scenes that hearken back to the history of the area "where the West still lives.”

You can guide yourself on a personal walking tour of the murals by following the brass horseshoes embedded in the sidewalks, or join an official tour which will transport you by wagon while imparting local facts and stories.

Want to see the artists in action? The First Saturday of each June, mural artists gather in a race against the clock to complete the new mural in one day. Bleachers are set up for spectators, and a small food and craft fair accompanies the event.

If your travels take you through the Yakima Valley during the first weekend in August, make a stop at the Guerra farm in Sunnyside and enjoy the fabulous dinner they prepare each year as part of their Chile Pepper Festival.

*Clicking on the picture will link you to photos of additional murals

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