(Image credits: Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration

Posted by Ellen

There was free coffee for all at the Fourth of July picnic in Vale, Oregon, in 1941. The people of Vale were mostly newcomers to eastern Oregon, lured there in the 1930s by the Vale-Owhyee irrigation project. Most of the new residents were farm people from the Dust Bowl region, and over the span of just a few years they changed the culture of what had previously been a ranching community.

In 1941 for the first time the Vale Fourth of July festivities did not include a rodeo. Instead, there was a parade, a baseball game, a tug of war, a greased pig race, a motorcycle show, and, of course, fireworks. It was quite a full day of activities, and even the free coffee was not enough to keep everybody awake.