Toppenish Things to Do
A noted in a previous tip, Toppenish has quite a collection of murals on the sides of its buildings these days. They have become a primary feature of the community.
There are so many of them, in fact, how do you go about making sure that you have seen them all?
There are several ways, but one of the easiest is the Toppenish Mural Tour by Horse Wagon. These tours cost $12 for adults and $4 for children (2013 prices), and while this seems a bit on the pricy side it does make sure that you hit all of the murals, and keeps you from having to walk or drive around town yourself. This may not sound like too much trouble, but Toppenish is oddly laid out with many diagonal streets, so that finding your way around town quickly can be quite a chore, unless you have been in town for half a day or so to get adjusted to how all the streets intersect at odd angles.
The horse drawn wagon tours operate May through September, and they depart from the public restrooms and parking lot that are located on S. Division Street just south of its intersection with Toppenish Avenue.
However, if you want to do the mural tour yourself, you can stop by the Toppenish Visitor's Center at 504 S. Elm Street and they have a tour map of the murals available for a self-guided tour.
The web site below is for the Toppenish Chamber of Commerce, which features a bunch of information on its web site about the murals, including information about each mural. From the left side menu of the web site, select Mural Gallery for a photographic list of all the murals in their inventory. For the very brief summary of the information about the horse drawn mural tour, select the Tours and Packages item, and then select the Toppenish Murals Tour from the new list. However, the information provided about the murals tour is very limited, and currently the web site for the tour information on their web site is not working correctly.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
There are some 75 or more murals scattered all over downtown Toppenish. They are on newer buildings and older buildings, and sometimes on walls that are just there (such as the parks walls around the baseball fields). The subjects featured are almost always something that has been thoroughly researched, and is a part of the past in Toppenish.
The murals can be scenes of the city, as found in photographs, or stylized versions of events, or as shown in the first photo here, memorializing the life of a particular individual.
Here in Photo 1, we see a mural along the side of the CenturyLink building that commemorates the life of Ruth Parton, from Toppenish. She was one of the first big female stars in rodeo, horse racing, and horse relay racing. She was the first woman to be licensed to train racehorses, among her other claims to fame.
Beside most of the murals, there is a statement about what the mural depicts and how it fits in with the history of the community.
These murals may be found just about everywhere. The new, modern hospital has one (photo 2), as do a number of the older buildings in downtown (photo 3). Most are not lit up at night, but two of the ones at a plaza near city hall are, and these look pretty good when lit up in this way (photo 4).
Many of the murals come equipped with numbers, as well as an interpretive sign describing the scene shown, and giving some insight into the community and its past. Photo 5 shows a typical sign, and this one explains the Ruth Parton murals. You can see the interpretive sign on the far left side of photo 1, as a small white rectangle.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
3 Hotels in Toppenish
511 South Elm Street, Toppenish, Washington, 98948, United States
Good for: Families
I stayed there three nights on a recent visit to the Yakama Indian Nation. The rooms are comfortable...more
280 Buster Rd., Toppenish, Washington, United States
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Business
There are several Mexican restaurants in Toppenish, and this one is sort of a semi-self service taquierilla type of establishment. It also offers a drive-through window and so it is sort of a near-fast food type of place.
The quality is OK, but my suspicion is the food may be a better value at some of the other places in town. The price here are cheap, but then the quantity of food for that price isn't such a great deal.
The place does have free wifi for those that would like a bit of contact with the outside world.
Favorite Dish: The burrito plate with rice and beans was in the $8 range, and really wasn't that big. It was enough to keep me going for a bit but wasn't completely filling.
Native american restaurant owned and operated by the Yakama Nation. The design is completely north american indian.
Favorite Dish: Salmon and huckleberries
If your current health insurance doesn't cover you while your abroad, you should consider getting international travel insurance just in case something should go wrong.
Toppenish Local Customs
Today, Toppenish has quite a number of murals scattered about the community, with most of them being located in the downtown core (and others are very scattered around). Many of these have been the product of an annual event called Mural in a Day.
The current incarnation of this event takes place on the first Saturday of June, in Pioneer Park (Highway 22 and W 2nd Avenue, and west of the huge water tower that says Toppenish on it). The event starts out with a breakfast put on by the local Lions club (at $6 a plate this is one of the better breakfast deals in town), starting around 6:30 or 7 in the morning. The vendors come and start to set up their booths of artworks, clothing, and other merchandise to sell during the event.
In the meantime, a huge "canvas" has been set up on the lawn, with bleaches arranged so that people are able to watch the painting of the mural.
In keeping with tradition set forth in the painting of the first mural in 1989, the mural is designed by one artist, but it is painted by a group of noted artists from around the region. The basic design is drawn onto the "canvas" (which is actually smaller sheets of a harder substance so the mural can be moved and installed), and smaller versions of the ultimate design are shown to the artists that will be involved in its creation.
The Painting of the Mural itself starts in the mid-morning, depending on the organization time taken to get all the artists familiar with what is going to happen.
Then, they get to work adding the desired colors to the mural. Each of the artists has a cloth label pinned to their back so that the audience that is watching the painting transpire knows who the artists are and where they have come from.
By 2 or 3 or so in the afternoon, the mural is finished, depending on the size and complexity. By 4 in the afternoon or so, most of the vendors have packed up their wares and are heading for home.
Photo 1: around 8 in the morning, the scene unfolds: at the left is the "canvas" made of various segments of connected hard material, built so that the mural may be moved from one place to another. To the right of this we can see the bleaches for the public to watch the work unfold. Towards the center we can see the Lion's Club serving breakfast, and to the right of that we can see the vendors setting up their booths for selling various merchandise, much of which is locally produced works of some sort or other.
Photo 2: Here we see the large "canvas" and the outline drawing of the mural that the mural designer artist would like to create.
Photo 3: Organizing the artists for the 2013 Mural in a Day, around 8:45 in the morning. Notice that each artist has a label on their back telling us who it is who is doing the work. They are looking at a color drawing of what the mural designer has put together, and deciding how they want to tackle this.
Photo 4: By 4:30 in the afternoon, there are still a few people around watching the paint dry. At this point in time, the mural has been completed for about 2 hours or so.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
Toppenish Off The Beaten Path
This plaza is sort of the main downtown open space park. Along with some open grass, there are several planters and a few benches and picnic tables. The public "washrooms" are across the street to the east.
There are two large murals on the walls of the buildings that face the plaza, and at night they are lit (and the lighting looks far better than what turned out in photo 5) so that the plaza is reasonably attractive even at night.
The plaza is located just south of the railroad line, and is at the corner where Division Street and Toppenish Street merge.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
These restrooms share much with other public restrooms in most any city. However, the exterior is not one of them.
The restroom facility has been decorated to closely resemble one of the pioneer structures int eh area.
As with many structures in Toppenish today, the restroom building is decorated with murals. The one on the south side of the restroom building is called "Halloween Pranks" and depicts pranksters tipping over someone's outdoor toilet as was a prank in the days of outdoor plumbing.
Don't let that fool you, though. It has flush toilets.
The other side of the structure has washing being hung out to dry, with a pit toilet prank on the far left side of the mural.
How to Get Here:
The structure is located on the east side of Division Street just south of Toppenish Street, near the railroad tracks. The official address is 37 south Division Street, Toppenish WA 98948Related to:
- Arts and Culture
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