ONTARIO — Behind the scenes of the 25th Birthday Bash for the Four Rivers Cultural Center on Thursday, staff and volunteers were busy putting in last-minute touches and gearing up for the arrival later that night of hundreds of balloons to form an archway for the festive event.
Among some of the work underway were touching up the Origins Story exhibit in the Harano Gallery, as well as work in the museum, such as adding to, revamping and installing new exhibits.
The efforts will be unveiled tonight during the silver-anniversary celebration, which is from 5 to 9 p.m. and is loaded with festivities.
Revamping the museum also included adding an exhibit which tells the story of how refugees came to the area. A video that will explain the exhibit is titled “What Would You Pack?” It poses a question for people to think about if they were told they had to evacuate, said Tanya Navarrete, director of marketing and development for the Cultural Center.
Furthermore, there was a complete overhaul of the Basque Hotel exhibit.
“Before it was a collection of items donated and loaned which, after time, became eventually no longer flowing with the story of the museum, which is the people, land, water and chronology of the region,” Navarrete said. “It now tells the story of local Basque and how they arrived here.”
The hotel is a replica of the Echanis Boarding House, which was owned by Josephine Echanis Keim, who died in July. The exhibit will include a general history of immigration, immigration and nationalization and Echanis Keim’s family history of the hotel and house in Basque Country, including about her parents who emigrated here from Spain in the early 1900s, according to Lisa Corcostegui.
According to her obituary, Echanis Keim was born to Ygnacio “Jack” and Maria Echanis. Her family operated a sheep business in the Steens Mountains, then eventually opened their home in Ontario for a Basque Boarding house in 1922, providing a place to live for sheep herders from Spain.
“The home eventually became a landmark in Ontario because of its importance for the local history of the Basque people and a gathering place for the boarders and families of the Basques community in the surrounding area,” reads the obituary.
Echanis Keim went on to help form the Ontario Basque Club in 1947.
Corcostegui and Maria Barinaga Tipton, who are members of the Ontario Basque Club and who focus on genealogy and history, were working on the finishing touches for that exhibit on Thursday.
Staff at the center have invited back the community of those whose stories haven’t been told to be a part of the museum, Navarette said.
Additionally, the museum is also getting hooked into technology. Kiosks and wall mounts for iPads are mounted in front of the various cultural exhibits, which museum visitors will be able to interact with.
The 25th Birthday Bash tonight will include a wide array of family friendly activities and crafts, an opening ceremony with cake cutting, performances and more.
The lineup includes action on several stages, including the lobby, the theater, the Collins Room and the Hikaru Mizu Japanese Garden.
Events will rotate every half hour from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Stage 1 in the Meyer-McLean Theater. This stage will host the opening ceremony at 5 p.m., and Paiute Elders will tell traditional stories at 7 p.m.
There also will be performances by pianist Jackson Fairbanks at 4:30 and 6 p.m.; guitarist Hiroya Tsukamoto at 6:30 p.m.; Idaho Jazz Players at 7:30 p.m.; and Ballet Folklorico Mexico Lindo dance group at 8 p.m.
Events on Stage 2 in the lobby event are every half-hour from 6 to 9 p.m. First up will be henna artist Safa Llmi, followed by Fairbanks, who performs at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. His performances bookend Cowboy Poet Kathy Moss at 7 p.m. and the Idaho Jazz Players will wrap up performances in the lobby at 8:30 p.m.
On Stage 3 in the Collins Room, 30-minute events will rotate from 6 to 9 p.m. Back-to-back cultural music performances will kick it off, and Henn Artist Ekram Asuman is on tap at 7:30 p.m. Other performances will be by the Idaho Jazz Players, Tsukamoto and Moss.
Demonstrations will take place in the River Rooms from 6 to 9 p.m. Henna artists Llmi and Asuman will be in River Room No. 1 at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., respectively.
In River Room No. 2 is Thomas Angle with leather working and saddle making at 6 p.m.; Helen Dougal with mecate making at 6:30 p.m.; Artisans of Hope textiles at 7:30 p.m.; Deanna Attebery with rawhide and leather working at 8 p.m.; and Silversmith Ty McNab will wrap it up at 8:30 p.m.
The Cultural Center is at 676 S.W. Fifth Ave.
For more information, visit https://4rcc.com/event/frcc-birthday-bash/ or phone (541) 889-8191.