POLK COUNTY — Saturday and Sunday, Polk County kicks off a week of celebrating the wine industry with Uncork Polk County. To start, the Monmouth Independence
Chamber of Commerce will host its fourth annual Discover MI Town on Saturday from 3 to 7 p.m. The Dallas Downtown Association will host the DDA Art and Wine Walk from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
With 20 stops and 11 vendors offering tastings of wine, spirits and cider, participants in Discover MI Town have the flexibility to explore all Monmouth and Independence have to offer — including three spots on the campus of Western Oregon University.
“The best part of Discover MI Town is you start at whatever time you want to, you go to whatever stops you want to, you duck out, go to dinner or go to a movie,” said Vikkye Fetters, executive director of the chamber. “It’s very customizable.”
The event spans both towns, and has four shuttle stops every 15 minutes.
“Which is just long enough to go to the next stop on the route, get a tasting and get on that shuttle,” Fetters said.
Tickets to the event are $20 in advance, $25 the day of. Western students get special prices of $10 in advance, $15 on the day.
Discover MI Town serves a dual purpose, Fetters said.
“It is a fundraiser for the chamber, but more important than that it is a valuable tourism tool, getting people from Corvallis and Salem, and giving them an excuse — not only to go to one place in one town, but multiple places in both towns,” she said. “That kind of exposure is invaluable, especially for the big changes happening in Monmouth and Independence.”
Some of the changes Fetters referenced include the development at Independence Landing, which includes a boutique hotel, new housing projects — including further development at Edwards Addition — a Carl’s Junior coming to Monmouth, as well as Precision Car Wash.
“People fell optimistic in both Monmouth and Independence,” Fetters said. “They feel there’s this buzz. A lot of our chamber members are just excited. They can’t wait to see what it’s all going to feel like.”
At 7 p.m., Discover MI Town attendees and businesses have a chance to attend the after-party. Attendees can enter into a raffle. People who have gone to more than 50 percent of the stops can earn three entries.
“You triple your chances of winning, or spread it out among different prizes,” donated by chamber members, Fetters said.
On Sunday, the Dallas Downtown Association will host its second annual Wine and Art Walk from noon to 4 p.m.
The afternoon includes 12 participating businesses — including the Itemizer-Observer — eight wineries, a cider and a distiller.
The event was started by a student club at Oregon State University last year. The DDA took it over this year, and kept the focus local — the wineries and cider maker are from Polk County, and the distiller is from Monroe, said Norah Owings, DDA manager.
The event is a collaboration with the Dallas Arts Association, Owings said. Artists from the association created the logo used on the wine glasses and the canvas bag, available at the event for $10 to fill with purchased items from downtown businesses.
The event will feature more than wine — local artists from the Dallas Arts Association will hang work in selected stops, and musicians will perform in places.
Tickets to the wine and art walk are $20 in advance, $25 on the day of, and include a commemorative glass, a passport filled with coupons, and 10 tasting tickets. Designated drivers may purchase the glass and passport for $5.
“With 10 tasting tickets, that’s two glasses of wine,” Owings said. “A lot of stops will be at places that sell alcohol, if they want to purchase a glass of wine and hang out at that business, they’re more than welcome to.”
Unlike previous years, participating wineries will be able to sell bottles of their vino, so if someone finds something they particularly like, they may purchase a bottle to take home.
The DDA decided to continue the Wine and Art Walk because of its success in bringing people downtown last year.
“I think they saw ... how excited people were to come downtown, and our whole goal is to promote the downtown businesses. Any way that we can do that, we will,” Owings said. “It seems like a lot of downtown businesses are lacking support right now. We’re showing that downtown is viable and great. We’re trying to create an event so people will realize, ‘Hey, we have a great coffee house in town; Latitude (One) has a great dinner; I can get that mattress at Some Things. I don’t have to drive to Salem.’”
Those who go to every stop and get a stamp in their passport will be entered to win a drawing for a wine basket filled with six wines and some free tastings from local wineries.
To participate in both events, buy tickets for $35 by Friday online at micc-or.org and save $5.