SUTHERLIN — When Loretta Cole opened her wedding dress shop in February, she didn’t know she would be helping to organize a wedding dress runway show less than a year later.

Then again, she hadn’t met Jo Barnes yet.

Barnes visited Central Avenue Wedding Dresses and Alterations in June looking for business donations for Sutherlin’s annual Blackberry Festival. But she also had an idea to share.

“It was a vision I had to maybe do a wedding dress runway show. And then all of a sudden, when I was downtown, I ran into the wedding dress shop and talked with Loretta and we came up with doing this runway show,” Barnes explained.

Barnes recently celebrated a decade operating the Calapooia Reflections Museum, where her runway show vision will come to life. The show will features six women ranging in age from 17 to 58 modeling up to three wedding dresses and a bridesmaids dress each.

The dresses themselves will vary in styles and age, ranging from the 60’s through today’s modern styles. The museum already has several dresses on display, one of which dates back to 1942. Cole will add a dress from the late 50’s to the display before Saturday’s event.

Walk in Haircuts, located next door to the dress shop, will be doing all the model’s makeup and hair. Recent wedding shop customers Lea and Kevin Herrera will also be helping at the event. The bride will wear her wedding dress, which Cole altered and customized for her, while the groom, his best man and groomsman will help models down the runway in tuxedos they purchased from Cole.

The show will have a little bit of everything, including formal wear ideas for the mother of the bride, homecoming, prom and date night. It was originally scheduled to take place in December, but Cole and Barnes decided to postpone because of rising COVID-19 numbers.

“Honestly, the hardest part has been getting the dresses to fit the girls without doing a lot of alterations,” Cole said with a laugh. “That’s really how we chose the dresses, by how they fit the girls.”

All but two of the dresses will be available for purchase — those two dresses are claimed by the show’s youngest models, high schoolers who fell in love with the dresses Cole chose for them.

All Cole’s dresses, including dresses not showcased during the event, are $300 or under. She also does alterations and custom dresses. Central Avenue Wedding Dresses and Alterations, 871 W. Central Ave., Sutherlin, is open Tuesday through Saturday. Walk ins are welcome, but Cole says appointments are appreciated.

“I started sewing when I was 12 after sitting next to my grandmother while she sewed for years,” Cole said. “I remember sitting there and watching her and she would explain how she was doing things.”

The Wedding Dress Runway Show begins at 1 p.m. Saturday at Calapooia Reflections Museum, 113 W. Central Ave., Sutherlin. Guests will have the opportunity to enjoy the show as well as visit, enjoy refreshments — including a wedding cake Cole is making specially for the event — and explore the museum during a hospitality hour. Admission is free and all are welcome.

Erica Welch is the special sections editor for The News-Review. She can be reached at or 541-957-4218.

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Community Reporter

Erica Welch is the special sections editor for The News-Review, mother of two and a native of Roseburg. She is an alumni of RHS, UCC and Western Oregon University. Contact her at or 541-957-4218.

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