From their lodges scattered across Oregon, from the Coast to the high desert to the mountains and the valleys, the Elks were all headed to one place — Baker City.
The Baker Elks Lodge No. 33 played host this weekend to officers from 52 lodges who traveled here for one of Oregon Elks’ two major annual events.
The three-day event, which started Thursday, is a training seminar for incoming exalted rulers, said Morgan Brinton of Baker City, lecturing knight for the Baker Lodge and public relations chairperson for the Elks Northeast Oregon District.
This is the first time the event, officially known as the Leading Knight Fall Conference/Seminar, has taken place at the Baker City Lodge, which was started in 1896, Brinton said.
“We’re very honored that they came over,” Brinton said on Friday.
About 200 people, including Elks officers and their spouses and guests, gathered in Baker City for the conference, Brinton said.
“It was a huge undertaking and involved a lot of volunteer hours,” Brinton said. “Our members really came through.”
The Baker lodge applied for the honor of hosting the fall conference last winter.
A state committee chose the site for the event.
Brinton said one of Baker’s draws is that its lodge is among the larger ones in Oregon, with the accommodations for groups of up to 250 people.
Even so, local Elks had to do considerable preparation for the three-day event, Brinton said.
Projects included repainting the lodge’s social quarters and remodeling one of the meeting rooms.
Brinton said the conference was the biggest single event the Baker Elks Lodge has hosted.
She said it was a financial boon not only for the Baker Lodge, by way of registration fees, but also for the local economy, as the visitors stayed in local motels and patronized local businesses.
Although dinners were served at the Lodge, guests made their own plans for breakfasts, Brinton said.