Running delightfully counter to the hoity-toity stereotype you might have of "wine country," Walla Walla has a basketful of special events throughout the year that are decidedly non-pretentious.
In the spring, the Walla Walla Balloon Stampede brings about three dozen balloons to the area - not a big festival, but very popular. Morning launches, lots of tourists - pretty laid-back.
Of course, there's also spring barrel tasting weekend, a much newer way to ring in the season around here.
In late August, there's also the county fair - demolition derby, rodeo, carnies, cows, the usual.
Today was the splasho day for Wheelin' Walla Walla Weekend, which was expected to draw about 300-350 cars (Corvettes, Mustangs, street rods, El Caminos, lots of vintage models) and a few thousand people to the area.
Right around the corner from the fancy-schmancy wine tasting room, the butterfly lady and I passed a clot of vintage auto owners (hyphen oh so appropriately omitted) talking cars, at just enough above the volume of everybody else to raise suspicion. Sure enough, clutched in their mitts, obscured by insulating can holders, were a few cans on Natural Light (maybe it was Milwaukee's Best?).
I know a lot of people in my city worry about what the place will look like in a few years (good ol' Wally World with more money, or Upscaley Resortville filled with wealthy, New York Times-believing outsiders?), but I guess I mark the changing of the times by subtler cues.
Maybe someday our city, and our downtown, will change to the point that people who don't mind fracturing the open-container laws won't feel comfortable. That would be incremental change for the worse, a mark of just a little too much civilization for me.