Unearthing Christmas in summer 

Albany Visitors Association blog post about Willamette National Forest 2018 US Capitol Christmas TreeWith summer fast approaching, Christmas arrives early at the Willamette National Forest (WNF) in the Sweet Home Ranger District. Not only is there a special contest to find the US Capitol Christmas Tree (see instructions in the “how to nominate” section below), but the Willamette Valley Visitors Association has hidden 200 glass ornaments along the forest hiking trails for you to find.

If you discover one of the special keepsake ornaments, make sure to register to win one of over 120 prizes. All entrants who submit their ornament tag ID will also be entered into a sweepstakes with a spectacular grand prize: A round trip for two to Washington DC to attend the US Capitol Christmas Tree lighting and festivities.

The ornament treasure-hunt runs now through October 2, 2018.

The theme for the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree is “Find Your Trail!” in recognition of two 2018 anniversaries: the 50th anniversary of the National Trails Systems Act, and the 175th commemoration of the Oregon Trail. For more information on trails where you can find your ornament, visit the WNF website.

Be the one to find the big tree

Do you want to find the 2018 US Capitol Christmas Tree? You still have time to enter the contest, but the deadline is coming up fast on June 30th. 

Visit the Willamette National Forest and look for a tree 65 to 85 feet in height with conical shape. The tree must reside on US Forest Service land in the Sweet Home Ranger District, preferably close to a road that will accommodate a semi-truck and cranes necessary for harvest. 

The selected tree will be cut in early November and prepared for the 3,000-mile coast-to-coast journey that will trace the Oregon Trail in reverse. The tree’s journey will culminate with its lighting on the west lawn of the US Capitol Building in early December. Seventy smaller companion trees will also be sent from the forest to decorate DC government buildings and public spaces. Additionally, Oregonians will contribute 10,000 handmade ornaments, to be created throughout 2018.

How to nominate your candidate

To nominate a tree, obtain the GPS the location, snap a photo, and send your submission to capitolchristmastree2018@gmail.com, or deliver the information to the Sweet Home Ranger District Office, 4431 Hwy 20, Sweet Home OR 97386.

Ride the 2018 NW Tandem Rally

Get your gears spinning for the 2018 Northwest Tandem Rally (NWTR) coming up June 29th through July 4th. Hosted by the Mid Valley Bicycle Club (MVBC), the NWTR has been an annual event since 1986. The MVBC was founded in 1974 and has hosted this family friendly event four times previously.

If you’ve biked the Mid-Willamette Valley before, you’re most likely familiar with our abundance of quiet country roads through farmland and forests and up into the foothills of both the Cascades and Coast Range.

If this will be your first time in the Albany area, you’re in for a real treat. As all of the NWTR routes start in the Valley, there are lots of options for mostly flat rides, as well as hilly rides, and even a short climb or two into the mountains if your legs are up for it!

Albany, Oregon – 2018 rally’s home away from home

The 2018 Northwest Tandem Rally will be centered in the historic town of Albany, the “Gem of the Willamette Valley.” Albany is the eleventh largest city in Oregon and is located at the confluence of the Calapooia and Willamette Rivers. Founded in approximately 1848 the town has the most varied collection of historic buildings in Oregon.

While you are in town, make sure to visit the pioneer-era Monteith House  and regional museums. Take the family to the Historic Albany Carousel & Museum or attend a River Rhythms outdoor concert on a Thursday summer evening.

Surrounding Albany is one of the most diversified agricultural areas of the state, featuring miles of quiet country roads, historic covered bridges, and a burgeoning wine, hops, and spirits industry. Schedule a visit to one of Albany’s incredible restaurants and vibrant coffee houses during your stay.

Stop by the Albany Visitors Association for maps, a visitors guide, and recommendations for family-friendly places to visit while you’re in town for the rally. AVA is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, and on Saturdays (9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.) in the summer, and is located at 110 3rd Ave SE. Telephone 541-928-0911 for more information.

Accommodations and registration

Since the Fourth of July falls in the middle of the week this year, an extended rally is possible. You can stay an additional two days beyond the regular four-day schedule, and enjoy six days of riding through the scenic Willamette Valley. There’s even a bonus three or four day tour following the rally if you just can’t stop peddling.

For a full list of the NWTR accommodations, including the campgrounds at South Albany High School and rally hoteliers, and registration information, visit the 2018 NWTR website.

See you in Albany!

September Featured AVA Photographer

A huge shoutout to Mike Krutsinger of MKrutsinger Photography. Mike is our featured AVA photographer for September, and is volunteering with AVA to help give back to his community. His feature gallery reflects Albany Visitors Association’s summer Linn-Benton Farm-to-Table dinner that was held at Weddle Covered Bridge. It will give you a hint of what’s in store for next season!

*If you would like to contact Mike Krutsinger in regards to his commercial photography services, please email us.

Gallery

Click on any of the images to see better, You can exit the gallery at any time by pressing the escape key.

AVA volunteers visit Linn County sites

March 2017 Tour photo8Earlier this week, Albany Visitors Association took our volunteer staff on a tour of Linn County. What you may not know about AVA volunteers is that they are the unsung ambassadors of many an Albany and Linn County business.

AVA volunteers are many times the first people travelers meet as they drive down the I-5 corridor. When visitors stop at the rest area closest to us (Santiam River), they see a scaled-down replica of one of Albany’s historic Victorian homes. And inside that little blue house? AVA volunteers serve coffee, hot chocolate and cookies, and help travelers find the perfect place to shop, and stay and play.

March 2017 Tour photo4Don Vance, AVA’s Volunteer Coordinator, organizes the annual tour as a way for volunteers to learn more about our city and surrounding area, as well as thank them for their service.

This year the volunteers toured Linn County and were treated to lunch at the Boulder Falls Resort in Lebanon, at the 1847 Bar & Grill. They also visited the Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary and Roaring River Fish Hatchery in Scio, the Mallard Creek Golf Course in Lebanon, Sankey Park in Sweet Home (the site of the wildly popular Oregon Jamboree), and ended their day at Sweet Home’s Marks Ridge Winery for a bit of wine tasting.

Marks Ridge 1Please join us in thanking our volunteers for their time, energy, and knowledge. We recognize that their contributions help fulfill AVA’s mission to serve Albany’s visitors. If you or someone you know are interested in volunteering for us, contact Don at the Albany Visitors Association in Downtown Albany.

What to do in Oregon in 2017

17_OECGet ready for an Oregon year to be remembered! Many travelers will visit Oregon for the very first time—particularly in late August when a Total Solar Eclipse will occur on the 21st. Oregon’s Willamette Valley is prime TSE viewing territory, and many locales along the eclipse route will feature special viewing activities, food, celebration, and drink, including Albany.

The new 2017 Oregon Events Calendar, published by Pamplin Media Group, can help you plan your vacation—whether you hail from New York or Newberg. The Albany Visitors Association will have a supply of the publication at their office soon, but until we do, check out the digital edition.

In addition to the eclipse, Oregon is home to numerous annual music festivals, cycling and paddling relays, brew smackdowns, winery and culinary tours, and other venues to taste and experience our state in an entirely new way throughout the year. So come on, join us this year in Albany, Oregon.

*For print copies, please contact AVA at 541-9288-0911. Copies can be mailed, or you can stop by the office at 3rd and Lyon Streets in Downtown Albany, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Islands of serenity

Right after the holidays pass, Oregonians turn to outdoor activities that lift our spirits and affirm our love for the beauty that surrounds us in the Mid-Willamette Valley. Linn County possesses several gems within a short distance of Albany, Oregon—and this wonderful video by Grant McOmie highlights the astonishing beauty of McDowell Creek Park and its majestic falls. Plan on taking your family out there soon. You won’t be disappointed, and we promise that it will renew your energy level.

Brocard’s Antique Apple Orchard Press

Image is copyright Paul Schlegelmann, from his blog on Sweethome's Brocard Antique Apple Orchard.

Image is copyright Paul Schlegelmann, from his blog on Sweethome’s Brocard Antique Apple Orchard.

Save the date for this year’s press: Brocard’s Antique Apple Orchard will be pressing on October 15th, 2016. They usually start around 9:00 a.m. and press until they run out of apples. You will want to get there early before they run out of cider!

Brocard’s Antique Apple Orchard is located at 28095 Santiam Hwy. (Highway 20) about 25 miles east of I-5. The Brocard’s can be reached at 541-367-4840 to inquire about tours, tastings, and pressing dates.

2016 Antiques in the Street

screen-shot-2016-04-22-at-2-31-12-pmShop for amazing treasures from over 50 streets vendors and at the Albany Antique Mall sidewalk sale. Then tour over 100 vintage and classic cars. When you get hungry have lunch at one of downtown Albany’s fabulous restaurants or get it fresh off the vine and visit the Farmer’s Market. All within walking distance of each other.

Proceeds from this event will go directly to, Habitat for Humanity, “Raising Roofs and Raising Hopes!”

For more information about the event, check the Albany Antique Mall website.

Exploring the Seven Wondrous Trails – 2

Trail Number Two – Audubon and Wildlife Seekers

*The following article is the second installment in a series of seven, that will focus on local restaurants, attractions, events and unique businesses in Albany. The “Seven Trails” posts are written by AVA Executive Director Jimmie Lucht.

Histrionicus_histrionicus_drake_BarnegatOregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley is on the North American Flyway and is home to seven wildlife and bird preserves featuring songbirds and all sizes of birds of prey. Oregon is fifth in bird species diversity in the US, which is attributed to our distinctive eco-regions and relatively mild winters.

No matter the season, both advanced and novice birders will discover something to please the eye and ear in our region. In spring, hear the symphony of migrating or resident songbirds; in summer, watch mating pairs of Oregon’s endangered Harlequin Duck and American Dipper populations; in winter, spy Bald Eagle pairs in their huge nests—home quarters that can easily reach a weight of 1,000 pounds or more.

Yellow-breasted Chats, Bluebirds, Willow Flycatchers, Peregrine Falcons, Red-Shouldered Hawks, Osprey, Caspian Terns, Grebe, Belted Kingfishers, Herons, and nesting sites of more than 53,000 birds are just a sampling of what you might see when visiting one of our local preserves listed below.

eewilsonThe E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area, located at 2955 Camp Adair Road, Monmouth, this wildlife haven was once a military training facility during WWII. Walking trails not only give you an opportunity to view various flora and fauna, but also tell the story of Camp Adair.

At Cheadle Lake Park, 37954 Weirch Drive, Lebanon, Oregon, you can view the feathered friends that call this park home… some on a temporary basis. Walking trails abound in this park that also plays host to the Lebanon Strawberry Festival—featuring the world’s largest strawberry short cake—and also Lebanon’s Star Spangled Celebration held there on the Fourth of July.

While in Lebanon, visit the beautiful Healing Gardens designed by world renowned artist, Hoichi Kurisu. The gardens are located at the Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital and Best Western Boulder Falls Inn.

McDowell_Creek_Falls_(Linn_County,_Oregon_scenic_images)_(linnDA0095)McDowell Creek Falls Trail, a 1.4 mile loop trail featuring multiple waterfalls, is a perfect place for photo opportunities and wildlife. The trail is located at 43170 McDowell Creek Dr, Lebanon.

Whitcomb Creek County Park, at the Green Peter Reservoir in Cascadia, is a 328-acre park that is perfect for enjoying spectacular mountain views, bird-watching, sailing, fishing, hiking, camping, and water skiing on the reservoir.

Yellowbottom Recreation Site is situated in an old growth forest along the beautiful Quartzville Creek. Pan gold, sit in a natural hot pool of water, or just enjoy the tranquility of the area. Yellowbottom offers 22 first come-first served tent sites and is located at Milepost 24 of the Quartzville Back Country Byway, northeast of Sweet Home and upstream of Green Peter Reservoir.

After your discoveries in the beautiful Mid-Willamette Valley, enjoy Albany’s Talking Water Gardens, at 9710 Waverly Drive NE. Read the story about how this garden came about. You’ll be astonished at the photographs that illustrate the garden’s “before and after.” You will marvel at this award-winning wetlands project, and the public/private partnerships involving municipal government and local business that funded it.

Exploring the Seven Wondrous Trails – 1

Finding magic in Albany, Oregon

*The following article is the first installment in a series of seven, that will focus on local restaurants, events and unique businesses in Albany. The “Seven Trails” posts are written by AVA Executive Director Jimmie Lucht.

MelissaBabcockSaylor_AWalkInThePark

Melissa Babcock Saylor

TRAIL #1 – Albany and The Arts

Starting out on our trail, you will be amazed, entertained, surprised and enlightened by beautiful pieces of art at the Gallery Calapooia, 222 1st Ave W., Suite 100, 541.971.5701. The gallery makes shopping for that perfect home accent or gift easy, as the works of 20 regional artists display their works in oil, acrylic, and watercolor paintings, jewelry, pen and ink drawings, layered vinyl images, fabrics, collage, felted art, photography, glass and ceramics.

After a morning visit to the gallery (and participating in an art lesson), it’s time for a step back in time to partake of the Queen’s Tea at the Ivy Garden Tea Room, 333 1st Ave W, 541.928.7330. Following your royal respite, and fueled by delectable scones and jam, you move on to creativity!

Paint your own pottery or create a special ceramic piece, and the fine folks at Sure Fire Design will help glaze and fire it for you, 210 SW 2nd Ave, 542-1.928.7339.

When the pottery is wrapped and ready to go, the gentlemen (and ladies too!) can try their hand at fly-tying and get the scoop on the latest and greatest places to fish in Oregon. Mitch Smith, owner of Two Rivers Fly Shop is bound to fill your ears with big fish tales, 204 1st Ave W., 541.967.9800.

After tying a few flies, it’s time for a round of golf at the Albany Golf and Event Center, 155 Country Club Lane, 541.926.6059.

Next up? Take a leisurely afternoon stroll through the Talking Water Gardens, 577 Waverly Drive NE.  And if you crave even more rest and relaxation, what about a pampering spa treatment at the Level Three Salon and Spa, 317 1st Ave W, 541.905.4158.

On Friday evenings during the summer months at Albany’s Monteith River Park, enjoy the Movies At Monteith. The movies are free and concessions are available. Showtimes are at dusk, which varies, so please refer to the online schedule.

Since you’ve worked up an appetite, try one of Albany’s unique restaurants featuring award winning chefs. Visit Sybaris Bistro or Frankie’s Restaurant to enjoy a glass of local wine and an in- season, farm-to-table dining experience. Then back to your hotel so you will be rested and ready for another adventure in the morning—stay tuned for the next installment of the Seven Wondrous Trails.