The Wenatchee World

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Omak — Stampede town

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OMAK — Walk down Omak's Main Street and it's quickly evident that you're in a town stuck in a frontier time — a time when cowboys and American Indians ambled into town for refreshment and entertainment after a dusty day chasing cattle on the range, felling trees in the woods or nurturing apples in surrounding orchards.

Omak was just waking up from a quiet, snowy winter nap when I took the 100-mile drive from Wenatchee to linger for a few hours at the end of February. Temperatures soared to the 50s for the first time this year. Snow was receding from local parks, and there were lots of people wandering through town with smiles on their faces. A couple of bundled-up men sat drinking sodas and smoking at a cement picnic table in front of a giant mural of the town's famed Suicide Race — horse-mounted riders racing down the side of a mountain next to an Indian encampment along the Okanogan River, painted on the side of a building. Inside the building, a foursome of Colville tribal members took a warmer point of view as they sat on a couch in a thrift store soaking up the sun and gazing out the window at light traffic on the street.

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