It’s huge – Christmas Storybook Land

Photo of child about five years of age, looking at Christmas miniature display of a snowy village with penguins and polar bears in hats and scarves. The display is one of hundreds set up annually at Albany Oregon's Christmas Storybook Land event.

What exactly is Christmas Storybook Land? Recently, Alex Paul, Linn County Reporter for the Democrat Herald, wrote this article about the 2018 show. The free family event takes place every year at the Linn County Fair & Expo Center in Albany, Oregon. Read on to discover more and plan your next holiday trip to the Willamette Valley.

The 42nd Christmas Storybook Land

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the Linn County Fair & Expo Center, because hundreds of volunteers have been working like Santa’s elves to create the 42nd annual Christmas Storybook Land.

Thousands of colorful holiday lights have been strung on cables 10 feet in the air, some 1,300 Christmas trees donated by Weyerhaeuser are standing tall and more than 450 bears of all sizes and shapes have emerged from hibernation to welcome more than 40,000 guests over the next two weeks.

“We keep growing every year,” said volunteer and board member Joyce Moreira. “We’re working against the clock right now, but we’ll make it by Thursday night when we have a special viewing for volunteers and sponsors. We call it our VIP night. We open for the public Friday at 6:30 p.m.”

Moreira said she became a volunteer in 2005 after she retired from a 35-year career in the business division at Linn-Benton Community College.

“I live down the street and I used to bring my son to Christmas Storybook Land every year,” she said. “We are seeing third-generations coming now.”

For many years, Jim Stinson of Corvallis spent Monday through Friday in the cab of a semitruck hauling lumber products to southern California and glass back to Oregon and Washington.

But now the bearded Stinson is more grounded in the mid-valley and says he enjoys seeing the faces of children light up when they see the colorful Storybook Land displays. And, since the man with the white beard looks good in a bright red suit and cap, he gets to see those faces up close.

“I just love kids,” said Stinson, whose wife Linda also volunteers.

“Of course, Santa’s House is my favorite display. I think kids make the world go round.”

On Wednesday afternoon, he was busy “sweeping up,” just one of many daily chores needed to keep progress moving forward.

Volunteer Faye Creecy said this year’s overall theme is “Star Wars” and will feature a new display: local kids dressed as characters from the franchise and a visit by the Cloud City Garrison of the 501st Legion and Kashyyyk Base, with the help of Concordia Clan of the Mandalorian Mercs Costume Club and Astromech R2 Builders Club.

The Star Wars re-enactors will be at Christmas Storybook Land from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 9.

Creecy said children will especially enjoy the Grinch scene, the new moving saw at the Paul Bunyan display, and the numerous costumed characters walking around.

“The Our Town display is really coming together,” she said. “It’s really good-looking.”

Creecy said volunteers are especially proud of a new 9-foot train covered with lights and features moving wheels. It sits in the courtyard.

Tuesday through Friday, children through third grade (with their parents) are encouraged to come visit Santa and Mrs. Claus from 9:00  to 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Last year, nearly 4,000 children took part.

Volunteer and former board member Monte James was busy setting up Christmas trees Wednesday and said he has been a volunteer for about 15 years. He became one at the suggestion of Christmas Storybook Land co-founder Don Albright.

“I used to attend Christmas Storybook Land when I was a kid at the old fairgrounds,” James said.

James said he put up about 500 trees and helped string the row-upon-row of metal cables that hold lights for all of the displays.

“He’s an all-around helper,” Creecy said of James’ skills.

She also reminded families to bring their cameras.

It takes 11 semitrailers to hold all of the scenery, costumes, lights and other equipment used to make Christmas Storybook Land come to life.

Last year, more than 27,000 food items were donated to Fish of Albany and 40,280 people attended the event over its two-week run.

The all-volunteer organization is headed up by a board of directors including: President: Carol Wood; Vice-President: Bonnie Brown; Secretary: Joyce Moreira; Treasurer: Teresa Stout; Brian Baker, Marcie Barksdale, Bonnie Brown, Terry Burke, Tami Chaput, Faye Creecy, Karen Dahlinger, Sara Frazer, Tia Gilbert, Brad Hamlin, Derral Hunt, Kymberly McPhie, Joyce Moreira, Linda Morris, Lisa Muller, Richard Muller, Kimberly Samard, Paul Schmierer, Patty Skinner and Teresa Stout.

The Linn County Fair & Expo Center hosts the annual event at no charge.

*From an article by Alex Paul (abbreviated) published November 29, 2018

What to know if you go

CHRISTMAS STORYBOOK LAND

Where: Linn County Fair & Expo Center, 3700 Knox Butte Road

Admission: Free, but non-perishable food items; toys for Marine Corps Toys For Tots, accepted

Hours: Nov. 30-Dec. 14: Monday through Thursday, 6:30-8:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m; Fridays, Dec. 7 and Dec. 14: 2 to 8:30 p.m. Wheelchairs and assistance can be provided.

More information: www.christmasstorybookland.org.

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