SHRINE GAME 2004
By GERRY STEELE
Of the Baker City Herald
Why will 60 young men in red and white football jerseys be wandering through the Baker County Fair on a warm Thursday afternoon instead of in practice gear on the football field?
Those 60 young men, and Shriners from across the state, will join fair-goers for the first East-West Shrine Day Thursday afternoon at the Baker County Fairgrounds.
Wayne Lewis of Baker City, chairman of the East-West Game Committee, said because of a scheduling problem with players going on to college, the date of the East-West game was changed this year from the second Saturday in August to the first Saturday.
"This year was bad for us," he said. "The second Saturday in August is the 14th, and that is the deadline schools have given those players going on to play in college for reporting. And, annually, the colleges aren't fond of having the kids playing in a game right before reporting."
But, Lewis said, maybe that conflict will lead to a merger of sorts between the Shriners and the fair.
"Hopefully this will build attendance at the fair with the Shrine players being there," he said. "And, maybe it will draw more of the Shriners coming in for the game to the fair. And, hopefully, more people involved with the fair will be more involved with Shrine weekend."
East-West Shrine Day will begin at 1 p.m. Thursday when the players visit the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center on Flagstaff Hill.
From there the players will tour downtown Baker City to view the various window displays honoring their accomplishments before visiting Bulldog Memorial Stadium later in the afternoon.
At about 4 p.m., the players will head to the fairgrounds where they will participate in a "mini rodeo" of about a half-dozen events such as wild cow milking, milk drinking and watermelon seed spitting with fair youngsters.
Then, at 6 p.m., a tri-tip barbecue dinner is planned for the players and the community. The dinner, sponsored by the Baker Quarterback Club and Baker County Unlimited, is being prepared by local rancher Dan Warnock.
Cost is $8 each. Proceeds from the barbecue will go to support Baker 5J athletic programs.
The players then will board buses and return to their training site at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande.
Other activities set for players
Friday, the players, coaches and staff will be treated to a Shrine golf tournament beginning at 8 a.m. at Buffalo Peak course at Union.
That evening, at 5 p.m., the players and their families will be honored with another barbecue at Eastern.
Saturday is even busier
Saturday kicks off with the annual Cattlemen and Cattlewomen's breakfast. The breakfast, annually held at Geiser Pollman Park, has been moved to a new location this year.
The breakfast, at a cost of $7, will be held at the Baker County Fairgrounds near the armory building from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Line-up for the annual Shrine parade begins at 9:30 a.m. at the Baker Middle School. The parade, which begins at 10:30 a.m., will follow the usual route east down Broadway to Second, south on Second to Auburn, east on Auburn to Main, then north on Main to Madison.
Saturday evening's festivities at Bulldog Memorial Stadium begin with the pre-game pageantry at 6 p.m. Kickoff for the 52nd annual East-West game is set for 7 p.m. Reserved seating is $10, general admission is $7.