City Council Teresa Nielson reads a biography for fallen soldier Cody Patterson at Monday’s Memorial Day program at the Philomath Block Party and Concert. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Pushing our young sons in strollers from home to the downtown area, my wife and I took in the sights and sounds of the Block Party and Concert on Memorial Day. Attendance appeared to be fairly good, the number of people increasing in the early afternoon leading up to a special Memorial Day program and the Rose’s Pawn Shop concert.

When we first arrived, we came upon a lineup of very cool classic cars on 13th Street between Applegate and Main. The Corvallis Historic Auto Club had been invited to put out the word about the Philomath event and among those in attendance was that organization’s president, Pete Rocco.

Parked at the far end was Old No. 1, the antique fire truck that Philomath Fire & Rescue brings out on special occasions. The fire district is running short on volunteers and so part of the effort of displaying the antique engine was to try to attract folks who might be interested. It appeared as though they had someone interested — wonder if they were able to close the deal.

Various organizations and vendors set up booths on the other side of Main near the main entertainment area. After taking a quick look at what looked like a Philomath Community Services raffle fundraiser and noticing a sign promoting a June 23 town hall on wildfire awareness, my older son started jumping around among bubbles. Yes, there was a bubble machine distributing fun for the block party’s youngest visitors.

The youngsters could also be seen at Maxtivity’s tent by participating in some arts and crafts activities. Lori Paul, who founded the nonprofit probably three or four years ago now, was among those who were there having a good time with the kids. It looked like there was some pretty good sidewalk chalk art going on.

Of course, no block party is complete with the tasty treats — beer and barbecue for the adults and Jason’s Tropical Sno for the kids. My little ones gobbled down donuts that Mom purchased from one of the vendors.

Rose’s Pawn Shop plays a number during Monday’s event in Philomath. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Members of the PHS Shining Stars dance team performed a number for the crowd, which was starting to grow much bigger around that time. (I’ll be writing more news about this program in the near future).

Mayor Chas Jones, who organized the event, took the stage for a few words and led into an introduction of the Memorial Day program, which honored the eight soldiers that have become known as the “Philomath Fallen.” City councilors David Low, Catherine Biscoe, Matt Lehman and Teresa Nielson took turns reading short biographies on each of the soldiers:

• Homer Armstrong — Joined the Oregon Army National Guard in March 1917. Killed in action on July 31, 1918, during a massive infantry assault in France during World War I. 

• Henry Quetschke — Joined U.S. Navy in 1941 on the day after Pearl Harbor. Killed in action on Oct. 16, 1943 during World War II’s Battle of Guadalcanal.

Mayor Chas Jones talks to the crowd at the Philomath Block Party and Concert, an event that he organized to help bring the community together. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

• Albert Vandersee — Graduated with Philomath High School’s Class of 1939 and enlisted in the Army. Killed in action during World War II’s Battle of the Bulge in Belgium on Christmas Day 1944.

• Paul “Jeff” Cochran — Graduated with PHS Class of 1966 and eventually enlisted in the U.S. Army. Killed in action on May 1, 1968, in Vietnam.

• David Styles — Graduated with PHS Class of 1966 and drafted into the U.S. Army in 1968. Killed in action on March 29, 1969, in Vietnam.

• Larry Gassner — Blodgett native who graduated with PHS Class of 1967 and drafted into the U.S. Army in 1969. Killed in action on May 31, 1970, in Vietnam.

• Scott McKinley — Graduated with PHS Class of 1998 and joined the Oregon Army National Guard. Killed June 13, 2004 by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

• Cody Patterson — Graduated with PHS Class of 2007 and joined the U.S. Army in 2012. Killed by an improvised explosive device on Oct. 6, 2013 in Afghanistan.

Kyla Berger sings the National Anthem to close out a Memorial Day program at the Philomath Block Party and Concert on Monday. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Beacock Music’s Trevor Wilson followed the biography readings by playing “Taps” on a trumpet and Kyla Berger, a PHS senior, ended the program with a beautiful singing of the National Anthem.

Rose’s Pawn Shop then took the stage and they were sounding pretty good. It was a cool story about how Jones got the band to take a timeout from their concert tour to play at this Philomath event.

This is the first of two block parties going on this summer in Philomath. Dirt Road Brewing’s Chuck Cox is planning to host his second annual street party on July 2.

The PHS Shining Stars perform a dance number at Monday’s Philomath Block Party and Concert on 13th Street. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Here are my three takeaways from the Philomath Block Party and Concert:

1. Mayor Jones did a great job putting this together on what sounds like short notice. I believe he said it was April when he first contacted Rose’s Pawn Shop about playing. I also know that although he secured sponsors, he also himself covered many of the expenses. That just says a lot about someone who cares about his community while trying to offer something new for neighbors to come together.

2. I don’t know what it was — maybe it’s some things going on in our country right now, maybe it was the Philomath Fallen program, maybe it was my family in Nebraska sending me photos earlier in the day of my dad’s grave marker — but Kyla Berger’s singing of the National Anthem choked me up a bit. She has quite a voice and I saw a very happy Dad hugging her afterward. It was just a nice moment to take in.

3. Finally, the event reminded me of why I moved to Philomath. Here I was with my family having some fun and seeing a lot of familiar faces while maneuvering through the crowd. I love this place and I’m happy that my wife and I can bring up our kids in this town.

(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at News@PhilomathNews.com).

Brad Fuqua, Philomath News

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.

One reply on “Brad’s Blog: Memorial Day in downtown Philomath”

  1. Thanks for coming down to the party, getting some good photos, and sharing about your experience! I was happy to see that the community was as hungry for these types of events as I have been. I also wanted to express my gratitude to the sponsors, partners, volunteers, vendors, local businesses, and all of the attendees that all came together to make this a successful event and a meaningful Memorial Day Recognition ceremony. Thank you Philomath! Mayor Chas Jones

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