OROVILLE – “Paradise in the Valley” is the theme for this year’s Oroville May Festival which pays tribute to Oroville’s location and Lake Osoyoos.
The Festivities start with the coronation which takes place on Friday at 7 p.m. at Oroville High School. This year’s royalty are Queen Shelby Scott and Princess Angela Nelson. Following the coronation their will be a mini-parade through town.
Queen Shelby and Princess Angela invite everyone to come and enjoy the weekend which has a wide range of activities so most will find something they can enjoy.
Saturday starts with a bass tournament at 6 a.m. at Oroville’s Deep Bay Park on Lake Osoyoos. There’s a pancake breakfast at the American Legion Hall beginning at 7 p.m. and that’s when the Fun Run starts from Appleway Street. The 3 on 3 Basketball Tourney gets underway at 8 a.m. The Farmer’s Market is going from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in front of the Community Library.
Then the center piece of the May Festival, the Grand Parade begins, making it’s way down Main Street until it turns west on Central. Following the parade there is a lawn ceramony in front of the high school where the various awards are announced.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the Okanogan Borderlands Historical Society welcomes people to come see their latest exhibit “Bridging to the Past.” The displays feature the history of the Peerless, Prince’s Stores, Zosel Lumber Mill and the train to Oroville. This can be seen at the Old Oroville Depot Museum on Ironwood. There is also a Cruiz-in Car Show at Prince’s Parking Lot from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Kangaroo Jumpers will be at the football field between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and the Mason’s Kid’s Games start at Ben Prince Field at noon.
Starting at 11:30 a.m. the Oroville Chamber of Commerce will be holding their annual barbecue, this year with the help of the Sitzmark Ski Club.
For a full schedule see this week’s Green Edition pages A6 and A7.
Princes are May Festival Grand Marshals
Oroville’s May Festival is a real institution in this town, we are of course honored, although I’m not sure we deserve it,” said Jim Prince, about he and his wife Marilyn being chosen as this year’s Grand Marshals. Marilyn also said she felt honored to be chosen.
The Princes are part of a retail family that stretches back in Oroville for over 100 years – there name associated with the grocery and dry good businesses that were opened operated by Jim’s grandparents, father and uncles.
“Dad’s parents arrived here between 1910 and 1912, prior to that they were in Republic and Spokane. His dad’s parents immigrated here from Russia. His mother’s family immigrated from Denmark,” Jim said.
“My grandmother came here from Republic and my grandfather was into trading cattle and furs. Grandmother started a general store about four blocks from Main. There was a lot of agriculture being developed here and she must have heard it was going to be a prosperous area,” he said.
Jim said his father, Ben, had three brothers, Phillip, Meyer and Louie and three sisters, Martha, Anne and Leona. Meyer ran his grandmother’s store in Oroville and in 1933 his father built and opened the store on Main Street in the building that is now the south half of the Pastime Bar & Grill. He added a second story in 1948. Ben also had stores in Molson and Pateros for a time. Ben’s brother Louie had a store in Nespelem and then moved it to Tonasket.
Later, Ben Prince built a store on Ironwood. It was known to people on both sides of the border as “Ben’s.” The Foodliner was built north of Ben’s and now both buildings make up Prince’s Warehouse store.
Ben Prince went to high school in Oroville where he honed his football skills and later attended Gonzaga University and played football in 1916.
“He had turned down a scholarship to Purdue,” said Jim Prince. “He dropped out of college to joined the Navy and while there played nothing but football.”
Jim’s mother was raised in Kittitas where she was Ellensburg Rodeo Queen one year. She graduated from the University of Washington. His parents met in Seattle and were married in 1933. They had two children, Ben Jr. and Jim.
Jim and Marilyn, who is from Oregon, met at in 1958 at Gonzaga University where he was studying business and she was studying education. They married in 1961 and he was in the Army. After getting military training in Virginia they were stationed at Ft. Lewis near Tacoma. He made the rank of Captain and received a commendation metal from the Army.
He decided to come back to Oroville and help his dad with the store and later built the new store on the north end of town. The couple put in many years working at the store, which remained family owned between he and his brother Ben, until they sold first the dry goods and Ace Hardware to Jack and Mary Hughes and then the grocery store to John Akins. They retain ownership of the building, as well as the RV park.
Jim points to Jack Hughes as one of the many employees that made Princes a success.
“We really want to emphasize it was employees like Jack and all the loyal customers over the years that get the credit for making Prince’s what it is,” said Jim.
“We employed whole generations of kids who later went on to college and we had people who worked with us for several decades. It was those people, the employees and the customers,” said Jim.