Unique venues in the Columbia Gorge, Part 2: East Gorge

Interior hallway with tables set up for wedding or event, in front of big glass window with view of Columbia Gorge
Columbia Gorge Discovery Center (from their website)

Hello, folks. Last time we explored unique venues on the west side of the Columbia Gorge–the area from Troutdale OR and Washougal WA to the west to Hood River OR and Bingen/White Salmon WA on the east, the “wet side” of the Gorge. Today we head further east, where damp Cascadia transitions into High Desert. We’ll explore event venues in the Columbia Gorge east of Hood River and Bingen/White River to the east end of the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area in Biggs Junction OR and Maryhill WA. Many venues can be found in The Dalles, Oregon, the largest city in the area.

Interior hall space with machinery and lighting hanging from ceiling
Sunshine Mill
Grassy amphitheater on the side of a grain silo
Sunshine Mill

Sunshine Mill Sitting at the east edge of downtown The Dalles, this unique venue occupies what is the tallest building in all of the Gorge. This former mill was owned by Sunshine Baking Company and the wheat milled within was used to make Cheez-Its! Nowadays it is home to two wineries, Quenett and Copa Di Vino. The interior still has some of the industrial remains of the mill. The exterior has a sunken amphitheater. You can rent their indoor or outdoor spaces for weddings and other special events.

Place-set, draped tables outdoor, with a view of the Columbia Gorge
Maryhill Museum of Art (from their website)

Maryhill Museum of Art At the very east end of the Gorge and just west of the community of Maryhill, Washington, this grand museum was initially constructed as a residence for businessman Samuel Hill. When his family didn’t want to live “in the middle of nowhere”, it became a museum instead. The museum features an eclectic collection, including a collection donated by Queen Marie of Romania, sculptures by Rodin, and indigenous art. And it’s also a great place to have an event. The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust Education Center features a meeting room that holds up to 75 seated and 100 standing. The exterior is also available for events, with the splendor of the Gorge as backdrop. Be warned, however, it can get quite windy outside…

Interior hallway with chairs set up for wedding or event, in front of big glass window with view of Columbia Gorge
Columbia Gorge Discovery Center
Exterior of Discovery Center, as seen from across a small pond
Columbia Gorge Discovery Center

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center Lastly but not leastly, we head to the eastern Gorge’s premier history museum. Located just west of The Dalles, the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center offers a variety of options for events for personal and business use, from 25 to 400 people. The River Gallery features an impressive view of the Gorge outside without having to face the wind. Don’t forget that the museum features a Raptor Center with 7 different birds-of-prey. You can set up a private raptor demonstration and meet with Josephine the Owl!

A woman stands on a rocky cliff and looks at the Columbia River and farmlands below
Looking down at the Columbia River from Maryhill Stonehenge

Places to Stay

There are many lodging options in the Gorge. We’ve highlighted a few below:

Transportation to the Columbia Gorge

Most people arrive to the Gorge via car. Nevertheless, there are other options! Please see the Part One of event venues in the Columbia Gorge for details on getting from Portland to Hood River, as the info below mostly covers how to get east from Hood River to The Dalles.

  • Train: Amtrak’s Empire Builder’s nearest stop to The Dalles is in Wishram, Washington, with twice daily service. However, there doesn’t appear to be any rideshare service that serves the station, whether Uber/Lyft or traditional taxi. There is bus service from Goldendale, WA to The Dalles via Wishram. But there are only four trips a day and on weekdays only, so you may have to wait several hours in Wishram until the next bus. And there is very little to do in Wishram. (There is no store but there is a bar.) The better option would be to use the station in Bingen, Washington. There are more options to get from the station, and if you do have to wait for a bus there are things to do in Bingen and neighboring White Salmon.
  • Bus: There are multiple options, all of them have bike racks on the front and/or rear of the bus.
    • Oregon side: First, use the Columbia Gorge Express which travels from Gateway Transit Center in Portland to Hood River several times a day. In Hood River, connect to The Dalles bus.
    • Washington side: There is currently no bus service running on the SR 14 corridor between Bingen and Dallesport, Washington (just across the river from The Dalles.) Mt. Adams Transportation District runs a weekday bus between The Dalles and Goldendale, Washington via Dallesport and Wishram (Amtrak connection).
  • Bike: Biking east from Hood River, the Historic Columbia River Hwy has two segments: the car-free one that runs between Hood River and Mosier (which includes the Mosier Tunnels) and on US 30 from Mosier to The Dalles. US 30 is fairly quiet here, as most through traffic sticks to I-84. On the Washington side Route 14 is less busy than the section west of here, though there will still be areas of no shoulders. Be warned, this area is windy. In the summer the wind will be out of the west, which makes for easy riding eastbound, and possibly miserable riding westbound.

We hope this post helps you find unique event venues in the Columbia Gorge!

Event planner podcasts to motivate and inspire

EJP Events has recently been featured on a few event planner podcasts, so we’d like to share them with you! I hope you give these worthy programs a listen and let me know what you think.

Image ID: a banner with the text "Events:Demystified", and an image of a woman in business attire with her hand on her chin, leaning on a sound mixing board. This is one of the popular event planner podcasts available.
Tree-Fan Events produces the event planner podcast, “Events: Demystified”.

Events: Demystified

Here’s the first one, from March 2021: The show is called (in-person, virtual & hybrid) Events: Demystified. We’re on Episode 31: The Importance of Time Management and Friendors When Planning a Virtual Event . Anca Trifan of Tree-fan Events has been leading this podcast for over 2 years, and it was so great to work with her on a large virtual event, then to go on her show and talk about it.

Image ID: a black banner with the words "Miracle Workers: A Podcast for planners, by planners." (This is one of the popular event planner podcasts available.)

Miracle Workers: A Podcast for Meeting Planners by Meeting Planners

And the other, from July 2020. This show is called Miracle Workers: A Podcast for Meeting Planners by Meeting Planners. Episode 14, Using Events To Change The World. Amanda and Darryl have been producing Miracle Workers since 2019 as well, and their topics range from “Wi-Fi pricing to last-minute requests for kosher, vegetarian, gluten-free, low-salt meals.” The episode we are on dealt with diversity, and why it’s important to change the world through inclusive events – right up EJP Events’s alley!

In addition to these two podcasts that EJP Events has been featured on, here is a list of some other event planner podcasts that you might be interested in, whether you are in the profession of event planning, wedding planning or production; or thinking about it as a career.

  • She Doesn’t Even Go Here: Unsolicited Musings on Life and Business. By Terrica Skaggs. Terrica is so informative and entertaining, the minutes just fly by and suddenly you’re doing more laps or miles on your treadmill just to have an excuse to listen to another ep. Highly recommended!
  • The Savvy Event Planner Podcast. We haven’t tried this one out yet, but it has been going since 2015, and covers such interesting and timely topics as Active Shooter Protocol and Event Safety; as well as International Event Planning.
  • Talk With Renee Dalo. Renee Dalo is a respected industry veteran, and invites high-level guests such as Liene Stevens, Kirsten Palladino, and Kawania Wooten to talk about everything from entrepreneurship to combating burnout.

Do you have a favorite event planning podcast you want to share? Or helpful tips on how to stay up on the latest event planning news? Leave us a comment, please!

The 2021 EJP Events Corporate, Event, and Weddings Gifting Guide

corporate hybrid and virtual eventsTom Cook Photo – Katherine O’Brien of EJP Events demonstrates the physically-distanced method of passing out conference swag at a small hybrid event with 4 people in attendance at Skyrise. Signage and props by The Fresh Hues; Floral MixMod; Rentals The Party Place

While the Christmas personal shopping rush is winding down, the winter/spring 2021 conference and gala season is just heating up. Hundreds of fundraisers, seminars, symposiums, annual conferences, and board meetings are held between January and June every year. Most of these in 2021 will still be virtual due to COVID-19 still rampant in our communities. A conference or business gift brings tactile experience into the virtual and hybrid event world, making it interactive, engaging, and more likely to be remembered.

We love to give and get gifts – who doesn’t? This year is markedly different as many of us have been isolated from colleagues and friends; and we haven’t been attending meetings and events to keep us connected in our business relationships. Even though we’re heartened by news of a vaccine, it will be months before it’s widely available enough to change what’s happening with hybrid and virtual events.

I produced this corporate event gifting guide to make it easier for you to find the local Portland businesses creating unique gifts for corporate and social events. I hope it helps you support small businesses (especially those that are BIPOC-owned), and helps you reach out to your friends, clients, and colleagues with a little something to spread cheer and let them know you’ve been thinking about them. Whether it’s conference swag, a personal touch for a nonprofit gala, or a wedding party favor, there are so many reasons to celebrate in 2021 with a token of appreciation and affection.

Download the 2021 Gifting Guide here, or view it as a website.

corporate event gifting guide

Use a train for an event

Looking for a unique spin on an event? Why not use a train for your event!

Amtrak, America’s national rail provider, travels to over 500 destinations around the country. It may not be the fastest way to get to where you need. But it’s a trip lacking  the hassles of airport security and driving stress. And it’s not always about speed. A train trip on Amtrak’s Cascades from Portland to Seattle takes about 3 1/2 hours. While it’s possible to drive there in slightly less time, taking the train avoids the nightmare that can be Seattle rush hour traffic. (Not to mention parking!) Plus, there’s the romance of arriving at your destination in a historic station in the heart of the city.

Going further? A long-distance train journey is a great way to relax and unwind. You can get mesmerized by the scenery going by, even in so-called “boring” places. You’ll be able to accomplish a good deal of reading, writing, or drawing. Think of those things you probably don’t have the time to do in your day-to-day life. You’ll now have the time! Want a comfortable night’s sleep? Book a room in a sleeping car, where attendants will make your bed every night.

Trains for a long-distance event

There are many options for one to incorporate rail travel into an event or wedding. Here’s a few ideas:

Trains for a local event

Maybe you’re not going to travel a long distance but still want to use a train for an event? There are many tourist trains and historic museums scattered throughout the US. While most of these trains are short distance day trip affairs, but some offer longer journeys. Here are some options for the Portland area:

  • Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation. Located here in Portland, this museum can host parties. The Foundation features historic trains like the Southern Pacific 4449, the Freedom Train!
  • Mount Hood Railroad Located in Hood River, this railroad offers group reservations and scenic rail charters. Their Club Car has space for live bands and dancing and can be connected to a lounge car with a complete bar.
  • Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad. This tourist railroad runs along the coast from Garibaldi to Wheeler in Tillamook County. They offer a group discount for parties of 13 and more. Plus, they have a dinner train where you can treat yourself to a four-course meal!

    The Southern Pacific 4449 Engine, seen at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center.

As you can see, there are many ways to use a train for your event. Using rail will make your event stand out!

Should I save my wedding cake?

It’s been a long-held wedding tradition: Save the top tier of your wedding cake, wrap it up, stow it in the freezer, and eat it on your first wedding anniversary. This tradition goes back through the years, growing out of a time when wedding cakes and baby christening cakes were basically the same thing, and couples usually had a baby within a year of their marriage. It made sense to save part of the wedding cake for the latter event. It also helped that these wedding cakes back then were primarily fruitcakes, which did not require refrigeration to prevent spoilage.

Like many “traditions”, saving part of the wedding cake is one that we think is going away. You do not have to do this. A lot of bakers nowadays are providing a free anniversary cake one year later — ask your baker if they will do this. No matter how well you try to preserve the cake, it’s not going to taste as good as it did on your wedding night. Or, just go out for a nice dinner and dessert on your anniversary. It’s up to you!

If you really want to hew to tradition, wrap it really well in plastic wrap and then in an airtight container. You should put it in the freezer that night. And then yes, on your anniversary (or the day before) you would thaw the cake and have it for dessert.

But again — we feel that this is a super optional tradition and most people these days do not do it.

Lewis and Clark College Garden Wedding

portland wedding planner

Photos by Rachel Veltri PhotographyThis time of year when everyone is taking stock of the past and looking forward, I often go through the more recent photos and relive some of the best moments. Shiloh and David’s wedding was a high point of a wonderful summer season.

lewis and clark college garden wedding

I was thrilled that both Rachel Veltri Photography and Outlive Creative were kind enough to share with me the still and motion images from Shiloh and David’s elegant garden wedding at the Lewis and Clark College Historic Estate. Shiloh and David initially contacted me when they were living in another state but moved to Oregon prior to the wedding. Many of their guests traveled in, and we had several hotel blocks as well as shuttles. In many ways it was an Oregon destination wedding.

lewis and clark college garden wedding

I won’t try to describe what pictures can tell in much more detail. Suffice it to say it was a beautiful day full of love and celebration. I was so glad to be a part of it.

lewis and clark college garden wedding
Video still capture by Outlive Creative

Venue: Lewis and Clark College
Photographer: Rachel Veltri Photography
Videographer: Outlive Creative
Catering: Devil’s Food Catering
Cake: The Hungry Hero
Flowers: The Blossoming Bride
Music: John Ross Music
Rentals: The Party Place
Signage: Hey Halle Design
Beauty: Chachi Hair, French Cut Hair, and Glam by Samiha
Transport: Northwest Limousine
Hotels: Heathman Hotel, Hilton Garden Inn Lake Oswego

EJP Events is a Preferred Coordinator of Lewis and Clark College Conferences and Events. EJP Events would recommend a Lewis and Clark College event to any of our clients or readers looking for an elegant garden wedding on a historic estate.
If you would like to view more photos and see what an effortlessly elegant Lewis and Clark College wedding looks like, please visit the gallery at https://rachelveltriphotography.pixieset.com/g/shilohdavid/
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