Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Idaho Falls takes ownership of War Bonnet Roundup

The city of Idaho Falls has taken over the War Bonnet Roundup, Idaho’s oldest professional rodeo.

At a City Council work session Monday, Parks and Recreation Director Greg Weitzel reported that he had reached an agreement with American Legion Idaho Post 56 to acquire the rodeo’s property and management responsibilities. Under the agreement, the Legion, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, has transferred the rodeo to the city free and clear while retaining the right to operate grandstand concessions for three years, with two-year extension option. The Legion will pay 15 percent of its rodeo concession income to the city.

The sale price was estimated at $16,000,  and included all intellectual property, goods and equipment. Because was under $25,000, it no formal council action was required, only administrative action.

With more than 15,000 people attending every year, the rodeo has grown to the point where the Legion is having difficulty managing the event, said Post 56 Commander Bob Skinner. Sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association, last year the War Bonnet saw a record-breaking 477 participants.

“The time is right to transfer the responsibility to a larger organization, which will allow this great asset to grow even bigger and better,” he said. “We look forward to working side-by-side with the city to help this great event become a destination rodeo for all people in the west and beyond.”

For decades the War Bonnet Roundup has been held at Sandy Downs, a facility owned and managed by the city. It will celebrate its 105th anniversary in 2016.

“Many rodeos throughout the United States are run by cities because they bring in a great deal of revenue and have a positive economic impact,” Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper said. Over the years the Parks and Recreation Department has honed its rodeo management skills and developed the necessary resources and personnel, she said.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Going out of business sale starts at Farr's Jewelry

Farr's Jewelry moved into its 17th Street store in 1999.
You might want to get the jump on Black Friday, because the race is on at Farr's Jewelry on 17th Street. Once a downtown anchor, Farr’s Jewelry, is going out of business after 55 years.

Vern Farr opened Farr’s Jewelry in downtown Ogden, Utah, in 1956. The Idaho Falls store opened four years later, at 369 Shoup Avenue, across the street from what used to be Ada’s Café (now Krung Thep, a Thai restaurant). In 1976, owner Boyd Wecker, a friend of Vern Farr’s, moved the store to the corner of Shoup and B Street and ten years after that it moved to the Grand Teton Mall on 17th Street. The store had expanded from jewelry to electronics and gifts, dropping small appliances, and focusing more on specialties.

Wecker retired from the business in 1992 and Vern Farr’s son Dirk (who’d come north from Utah) took over as owner, with the help of longtime employee Tom Stott, a company mainstay. In February 1999 Farr’s moved out of the mall and into its current location at 2026 East 17th Street. Building ownership, more individualized hours, and easy access help keep prices down while Farr’s maintained its loyal customer base.

The economic downturn of 2008 didn’t really hit Farr’s until a year or two later. Things have come back since then, “but just not fast enough,” Dirk Farr said. Because of “changing family dynamics” he moved back to Utah in 2014 to take over the Ogden store, but will always cherish his 29 years in Idaho Falls. “We’ve had fantastic employees and customers,” he said.

He is hoping to have the store closed after Christmas, and encourages everyone to check out what deals are available. “I would rather have Idaho Falls benefit from the marked-down prices than try to sell it somewhere else,” he said.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Catmull's Furniture closing after 53 years in business

Barbara and Dale Catmull in their downtown Idaho Falls store.
After 53 years in downtown Idaho Falls, Catmull’s Furniture is going out of business.

Since making the announcement Nov. 10, owners Dale and Barbara Catmull have astonished by the outpouring of loyalty from longtime customers. “They’ll say, ‘We bought our first sofa from you,’” Barbara  said. “There are a lot of families where it’s been their tradition to buy here.”

The things people are saying, it feels like ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’” said Dale, 65, who who started helping his father, Dorsal “Doc” Catmull, when he was 12 years old. (Doc Catmull died in 2013.)

By price, Catmull’s has been able to compete all along. Because they own the building, their overhead is a lot lower, which meant they could pass savings along to the customers, said Dale.
“We have good quality stuff and free delivery, which you hardly see anymore,” said Barbara. “But things are changing. The younger generation thinks they can get better value at places like Furniture Row. It’s not true, but that’s what they think.

They hope to have the 15,000 square feet of space cleared out by mid-December. After that, they plan to visit their children and grandchildren and to sail the Erickson 34-200 sailboat they have moored in Alameda, Calif.

“It’s time to do something fun,” Barbara said. “We’ve got to do it while we still have our health.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Post-"Pan" ponderings, before the memories fade

That's me with the sword, in the puffy shirt.
As I write this it has been less than 12 hours since my last turn as Captain Hook in the Idaho Falls Youth Arts Centre’s production of “Peter Pan.”

I know from experience that the post-production blahs don’t set in for another day or two, but they are coming. I wouldn’t change anything about this. It has been a wonderful experience.

The “Peter Pan” we did is the Broadway musical that Baby Boomers cut their teeth on in the ‘50s and ‘60s. As we rehearsed this fall, I  flashed back to watching Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard on our family’s tiny GE black-and-white set. At age 3, I was as terrified of Ritchard’s leering portrayal of Hook as I was of the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz,” another TV staple of the times.

As I am now about the same age as Ritchard was then, I resolved to take my cue from him. If I gave any little children bad dreams, all I can say is, “Parents, your little ones will be fine. After all, look how I turned out.” On second thought …

All joking aside, I cannot overstate the value of organizations like IFYAC to the community. They spend a lot of money and harness a lot of talent to make shows like “Peter Pan” come to life. Think of the lumber, paint, nails and screws bought to build the sets. There’s the printing of posters and programs, and although the local media are generous it still costs money to advertise.

Although the numbers won’t be in until after the holidays, IFYAC President Kip Later (aka Bill Jukes) told me the $38,000 production had probably hit the break-even point Monday night. This is cause for celebration.

Looking beyond money, however, the true value lies much more in what these shows add to people’s lives. I’m thinking in particular of the 86 young people who gave all they had playing Lost Boys, pirates and Indians. I did not get to know all of them, but there were quite a few with whom I made friends. When I was their age I was in plenty of school and community productions, so I felt right in tune with the joy that comes from a common effort, working hard to pull off something spectacular. As Hook, I went “all-in,” mostly because I don’t know any other way but also to perhaps inspire the kids to let it all hang out.

At the end there is the applause, then the anti-climax that comes from tearing down the set, going home and returning to your normal life of washing the dishes, raking the leaves and going to algebra class (or in my case, sitting down at the computer and trying to think of something to write).

After an experience like this, none of us are ever the same. It gets in your blood. I hope that some of the children in the audience who saw me prancing and bellowing onstage said to themselves (or their parents), “That looks like more fun than humans are allowed to have.”
The night of our dress rehearsal, Jay Hildebrandt of Local News 8 interviewed me and some of the other cast members. We were happy that the show would be getting some free publicity. I read somewhere once that a story in the newspaper or on TV is 19 times more effective than an advertisement.

Looking for an angle, Jay asked how I view organizations like IFYAC at a time when education in art, music and drama is being cut in the public schools. I told him I don’t think these shows should ever be considered a substitution for arts education, but more as a supplement.

I’m all for the fundamentals, but there’s more to the world than science and math. Music, art and drama open us up to the possibilities inside ourselves. They allow us to see how amazing we truly can be. They are not an “after-dinner mint,” they are an essential part of the main course.

There’s a story I’ve occasionally seen on the Internet about Winston Churchill being asked about cutting funding for the arts to aid the war effort. He was quoted as saying, “Then what are we fighting for?”

Like so much of what goes up online, this story is not true, only “truthy.” There is no record of such an exchange. But in a 1938 speech to the Royal Academy, Churchill did say, "The arts are essential to any complete national life. The State owes it to itself to sustain and encourage them … Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the reverence and delight which are their due."

Could Captain Hook have said it better? Split me infinitives, I think not.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Tai-Pan Trading to open on 17th Street

Tai-Pan Trading will be going in next door to Sports Authority.
Tai-Pan Trading Co. will be setting up in the Hall Park Shopping Center at 1568 E. 17th Street, just east of Big Lots!

It is one of two Tai-Pan stores moving into Idaho, the other one being in Twin Falls. The Salt Lake-based company has five stores in Utah, one in California and one in Idaho, in Boise.

Shane Murphy of Venture One Properties, who negotiated the Idaho Falls lease, said he made overtures when he heard Tai-Pan was opening a store in Twin Falls. He himself is a Tai-Pan Trading fan, and he said he knows plenty of people who make special trips to Utah to shop there.

“They loved the location and the price was right,” Murphy said. “I think they already knew they wanted to come here.”

The lease is dated to take effect Feb. 1, 2016. The store will be occupying 22,750 square feet, where $2 Fabric used to be and in adjoining space where KC Frame currently is. There will be extensive remodeling, including new flooring and energy-efficient lighting.

On its Web site, Tai-Pan describes itself as “an importer of quality home décor products at affordable prices.” The company started in 1979 as a wholesale floral supplier, in a small space with two cash registers and very few parking stalls. As the business expanded into home decor, the owners decided to open a showroom and offer merchandise directly to the public.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Opera Elect returning to The Cellar this Saturday

Opera Elect -- Zach Buker and Jordan Michelle Bowman -- will perform Saturday night at The Cellar.
Opera Elect — Jordan Michelle Bowman and Zach Buker — will be back at The Cellar Saturday night, with special guests Lakotah Terrace and Idaho Fall's own Jason Dyer.

To mark the occasion, The Cellar will be offering a $30 opera-themed full course special: an overture appetizer, an opera-worthy stuffed pork chop main course, and an encore dessert. Drink specials include a "Carmen Tease" as well as "The Figaro." Regular menu items will also be provided.

Bowman and Buker say they paired up out of a desire to perform. Both studied music and vocal performance at the College of Idaho.”We want to perform, but the opportunities to do so are limited, especially for people as young as we are," said Bowman. "So we thought, well, let’s create our own opportunities."

The two have done opera parties throughout the Northwest, singing from the classical repertoire as well as more contemporary works. Right now, they are collaborating with Madelein Bowman, a friend and colleague, on an original work, “The Fortune Teller,” which they plan to debut next summer.

More information can be found at their Web site, operaelect.org. To make a reservation at The Cellar, call (208) 525-9300.

Subway to aid Community Food Basket

This holiday season, Idaho Falls Subway restaurants are collecting money to help the Idaho Falls Community Food Basket.
Subway restaurants in Idaho Falls are participating the SUBWAY Cares fund-raising program for Idaho Falls Community Food Basket (formerly the Community Food Bank).

Starting Sunday, customers will be able to donate at checkout by rounding up to the nearest dollar. All funds will go directly toward the Community Food Basket to help feed families in need during the holiday season. The program will run through Dec. 12.

“We’re thrilled to have this partnership with the Community Food Basket as we raise funds to assist in community awareness and feeding our neighbors that may be in need,” said Scott Sprague, owner of several Subway restaurants in southeast Idaho.

Subway Restaurants of Idaho Falls will present the Community Food Basket with a check totaling the collected amount on Dec. 14. Board members, managers and Subway staffers will join members of the Community Food Basket to celebrate.

“We are excited that Subway chose our organization to kick off the SUBWAY Cares Program,” said Bud Langerak, director of the Community Food Basket. “Our partnership has been incredibly significant to the organization as it looks to raise awareness and provide the community with food during this holiday season.”