On Sunday, December 8, 2019, from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., enjoy the sights and sounds of an old-fashioned holiday celebration in Historic Downtown Albany. The Christmas Parlour Tour is an “insider’s” peek into the past. Step inside some of our most intriguing historic homes and travel back through several eras including Art Deco and Victorian.
Participating historic homes and buildings throughout the Hackleman, Monteith, and Downtown Commercial Districts open their doors to tour participants. Meet the owners and learn about the architecture, the original occupants, and the ins and outs of restoring historic structures.
You can opt to ride a vintage trolley or horse-drawn wagon to the various stops, or drive, walk, bike or hike the tour on your own. Tickets are $15 per person and available for purchase online ahead of time (see the “Online Tickets” section below this blog post). Tour proceeds benefit the non-profit Monteith House Museum. Tickets will also be available on the day of the tour at Albany Visitors Association.
On Sunday, December 8th, you can purchase your tickets at the Albany Visitors Association 110 3rd Ave SE. Ticket sales begin at 1:00 p.m. and continue until 6:00 p.m. The tour hours are 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Music, refreshments, horse-drawn wagon rides or vintage trolley rides are included in the $15 ticket. Well-behaved children under 12 are admitted free with a paid adult. Proceeds benefit Monteith House Museum.
*Online pre-sales are available in the “Online Tickets” section below.
The Christmas Parlour Tour is “self-guided.” You can tour the homes in any order you like. Spend as much or as little time at each location as it suits you. Several of the buildings are within walking distance of each other, while a few may be outside your comfortable walking distance, requiring your own vehicle or the provided trolley or horse-drawn wagon. Visitors usually take three to four hours to fully enjoy the tour.
And as long as you’re in Albany, do a bit of holiday shopping. Find unique gifts in antique and specialty stores. Indulge in a pastry or a decadent cup of hot cocoa, a frothy cappuccino, or a farm-fresh dinner in one of the many eateries and bistros downtown. Take a ride on the Albany Historic Carousel, which is beautifully decorated this time of year.
Albany’s Annual Interior Tours were created by a group of friends and neighbors to share the past through the architecture of historic dwellings. They are coordinated by Albany’s Historic Interior Home Tour Committee and sponsored by the Monteith Historical Society.
For more information about Albany’s Historic Interior Tours and other Albany events and attractions contact the Albany Visitors Association: 541-928-0911.
Please fill out all fields completely. An email confirmation will be sent once your ticket is paid for. Online ticket sales will close on December 5, 2019 at midnight to ensure staff have adequate time to process your transaction. You’ll need to check in at Albany Visitors Association the day of the event to obtain your tour pass and map, and to board the trolley or wagon.
Albany is open for business. but customers are encouraged to conduct business online or over the phone whenever possible.
To keep our customers informed, we will continue to update our online calendar of events as reports come in and actively reach out to confirm with event planners for events that have been canceled or rescheduled.
If you have questions regarding an event status, feel free to call us at 541-928-0911. We will get an answer for you as soon as we can.
Albany Visitors Office Hours and Staffing
The Albany Visitors Association Lobby will be closed to the public. The 24-hour kiosk will be stocked with visitor information. AVA staff will be available to answer phone calls and respond to e-mails as usual, Monday through Friday 9am – 5pm.
We will also post to our Albany Visitors Association Facebook page when we are notified of an event cancellation, so follow us and be informed: https://www.facebook.com/albanyvisitorsassociation/
Here is an update on closures in Albany: The Albany Regional Museum will be closed until April 9, the Historic Carousel & Museum until March 31, and the Monteith House until Mid-April or further notice.
For more information on the Coronavirus and efforts to keep it from spreading, please refer to the following reliable sources:
City of Albany https://www.cityofalbany.net/coronavirus
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html
The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) where you can also subscribe to OHA Coronavirus Updates (the latest news about COVID-19 in Oregon.) https://www.oregon.gov/oha/Pages/index.aspx
Travel Oregon Travel Alerts Refer to Travel Oregon’s “Travel Alerts” web page to keep current with the latest recommendations and announcements about COVID-19 within our state. https://traveloregon.com/travel-alerts/
Keep calm and hand wash on!
Looking for fun this March? Below, we’ve highlighted events all across Linn County that will appeal to family members of all ages. In fact, there’s so many activities we have to split our monthly blog into two parts. So enjoy “Part 1” and come back in another week or so for the second half. For even more fun, check out our full online calendar.
March 6th The Albany Historic Carousel & Museum is hosting “A Wee Bit o’ Fun” from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Join the critters for rides, make-and-take activities, Leprechaun Bingo and $5 dinner specials. Rides are unlimited with pot-o-gold raffles every ride – all for the $5 admission fee.
March 6 Ever heard the phrase, “Now cut that out?” Well, two local artisans, Melissa Babcock Saylor and Linda Herd, will share their “cut-it-out!” pieces at Gallery Calapooia for a First Friday reception on March 6 from 6 to 8 p.m. Saylor specializes in paper collage works and Herd in hand-sawn jewelry. Their show will remain up for the month of March in case you miss the reception.
March 7 from 2 to 5 p.m., It’s time for the “Beards and Brews Festival.” Celebrate luxurious facial hair and quaff delicious frothy beverages at Calapooia Brewing Co.’s annual fundraiser. For more information visit the event Facebook page.
March 7 from 4 to 9 p.m., get your brews on at the “3rd Annual Albany Taps & Caps,” presented by 3 Sheets Brewery & Taproom, The Growler Garage & Tap House, No Rails Ale House, Deluxe Brewing, Calapooia Brewing Company, and the Albany Downtown Association. This is a fundraiser benefiting Furniture Share. For tickets and information call the Albany Downtown Association at 541-928-2469 or visit ADA’s website.
March 7 From 5:30 to 8 p.m., join your friends for a fun evening supporting children’s literacy at “Library Uncorked!” Taste wine, beer and cider from the Pacific Northwest and bid on cool items in the silent auction. Ticket holders receive a unique event glass, five tasting tickets, an opportunity to win a grand prize drawing, delicious hors d’oeuvres and music by the Bush Pilots. Tickets are available at both the main library and the Carnegie, at the Friends Bookstore or purchase online.
March 10 At noon in the Lebanon Public Library, historian Tony Farque will tell the story of the Santiam Wagon Road. Sponsored by the Lebanon Museum and the library, the program is open to all and free of charge. Audience members are welcome to bring a lunch and eat while they listen. The library is located at 55 Academy St. in Lebanon.
March 11 from noon to 1p.m. If you haven’t attended a History Bites presentation at the Albany Regional Museum, what are you waiting for? Conveniently scheduled once per month during the lunch hour, these free presentations almost always entertain and educate on life in our community over the last few centuries. Previous topics have included the history of nutria and how they infamously populated the Willamette Valley, and Civil War Era clothing for women and children. Topics to be announced, so stay tuned, we’ll let you know as soon as we hear from the museum! (The photo is from last month’s presentation and presenter Linda Steffen.)
Save the Dates for the marvelously nutty play “Squirrel Lake” at the Albany Civic Theater. Through a series of unfortunate misunderstandings, things go terribly and hysterically wrong for a family gathering for a reading of a will. Performances at 7:30: March 6, 7, 12, 13, 14. Performance at 2:30 on March 8. For tickets and more info view ACT’s website.
THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED! March 13 and 14 ((((The “Fly Tyers & Fly Fishing Expo”)))). For more information, visit the event website.
March 13 — LBCC CONCERT CANCELED.
March 14 Take to the calm waters of Cheadle Lake in Lebanon, Oregon. from 9 to 11 a.m., Bring your kayak, canoe, or other non-motorized watercraft and join “Build Lebanon Trails,” as they follow the water trail on the lake. Learn about the history and the development of this crown jewel of the Lebanon trail system plan. *Please note: in order to participate, you must sign a waiver and use all required safety gear as listed by the organizers. Read about requirements and registration at the organizer website.
March 14 — IRUN FOR KIDS POSTPONED: The “17th Annual iRun for Kids” race will be rescheduled. Telephone 541-979-2773 for more information.
March 14 — 1st ANNUAL CORNHOLE TOURNAMENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED: Due to actions combating the coronavirus, this event will be rescheduled, according to the Albany Fire Department Facebook page.
March 14 and 15 Will you see a little red corvette at the mall? Come find out during the annual “Corvette Show” at Heritage Mall in Albany. This event is free and sponsored by the Beaver State Corvette Club Members. For more info visit the mall’s Facebook events page.
March 20, 21, 22 — HORSE FAIR CANCELED: Due to the governor’s ban on events of 250 people or larger to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Annual NW Horse Fair & Expo at the Linn County Expo Center in Albany has been canceled. Organizers of the event say the fair will be back next year, March 26-28, 2021. For more information, visit the event website.
March 30 — POSTPONED. “History Sips” with the Albany Regional Museum at Deluxe Brewing and Sinister Distillery, 635 NE Water Ave in Albany, from 7 to 8 p.m. The topic is “The History of Women in Brewing.” Admission to the presentation is free (spirited and brewed libations available for purchase). Donations gratefully accepted and go towards the operation of ARM.
Do you pride yourself on being a trivia expert? Want to take an overnight road trip from Portland or Eugene and see the Willamette Valley from the air? Do you like wine tasting and good food? If you answered “yes,” there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy participating in our “Spring Giveaway Contest.”
Albany Visitors Association along with our partners at KEZI have launched another fab giveaway package and you have until March 5th to enter. Prizes include a demo flight at the Infinite Air Center, wine tasting for two at Springhill Cellars Winery, a gift certificate to the House of Noodle (can you say ramen?), rides on the Albany Historic Carousel, and an overnight stay at the Albany Phoenix Inn.
It’s free to enter, just make sure to beat the deadline (March 5th) and good luck! ENTER HERE (KEZI)
It’s that time of year, when Albany-area shutterbugs dust off their lenses and head out to find the perfect shot. Although it might be a bit cold and rainy, there’s still plenty of breaks where sunshine and majestic scenes reveal themselves. Join the fun and enter the 2020 AVA Photo Contest.
EXTENDED DEADLINE! MARCH 13TH AT 5 PM. You can download entry forms (for both video and still photography), review the rules, and instructions for submitting your work in the “Download entry forms” section at the bottom of this page.
Good luck. First- through third-place ribbons will be awarded in each of the eight categories; Scenic, Landmarks, Events, Life in the Community, Open, Historic Albany, Culinary and Student. Gift certificates and ribbons will also be awarded for overall Champion, Reserve Champion, People’s Choice and Staff Choice. All of the winning photographers will be entered in a special drawing for $200.
A reception for all contestants will be held at The Pix Theater on Saturday, April 18, 2020, from 10 a.m. to noon. See your photos on the big screen and enjoy tasty treats. Winners in all categories will be entered into a drawing for a cash prize. Please come and join us as we hand out ribbons and watch a special memorial slide show honoring our departed friend and photographer, Oliver “Jerry” Anderson.
We ask that your work specifically feature Albany. Your images of life in Albany and surrounding Linn County (Benton County for North Albany) are what we most commonly use in our publications, advertisements, and social media. Imagine what visitors might like to see—people enjoying themselves outdoors, fantastic food and drink (micro-breweries, distilleries, winemakers), events, hiking, biking, paddling, and the beauty and majesty of our city’s historic architecture.
We never get enough action shots of people out and about, so think about staging something with friends; just make sure you get their permission and a release form signed (see forms section below) if there are recognizable people in your work.
Special effects Images that have digitally applied effects (such as montages, double exposures or vignettes) cannot be used in AVA publications or national advertising. Images manipulated in photo apps with effects such as frames or special borders also cannot be used.
Signatures or watermarks Images that retain watermarks or photographer signatures cannot be used in publications or ads. We will always credit the photographer by name in any publication or online. If you wish to submit an image with your signature or watermark, please note it may be seen by a limited audience.
Resolution and size Additionally, image size and shape are very important. Photos should be large file sizes for print (biggest size image setting on your camera, 300 dpi or larger); smaller mobile phone images may be blurry when enlarged. Photos should be standard portrait or landscape since square, panoramic, or custom ratios are more difficult to place within ads.
The following defines our contest categories and gives you an idea of what we are looking for.
Scenic: Visit our parks, the Willamette River, hiking trails, vineyards, and surrounding rural vistas. Find something you think will make someone want to come visit us, and that represents the unique charm of our region. Rustic barns, farm- stands, wildflowers, the Willamette Valley with distant snow- capped mountains—our great outdoors is chock full of amazing scenic shots.
Landmarks: What is your landmark when you tell friends to meet you in Albany? Is it the Historic Carousel or maybe the clock tower at the Albany Train Station? A landmark is unique to Albany and lends itself to the quintessential identity of our city. Even an old building with a Victorian painted advertisement on a brick wall or a statue could be a landmark.
Events: Albany is an event-driven community. Think about our parades, our Christmas horse-drawn wagon rides. There’s always an event happening monthly—from AKC national dog shows at the Linn County Fair & Expo Center to National Historic Preservation Month, there’s never a shortage of what to do! Make sure to check our events calendar and find something fun to photograph.
Life in the community: What is the quality of life in Albany? We are farmers, we are vintners and craft-brewers, we are artists, we are blue-collar welders and white collar executives, we are teachers… and we know how to have a great time no matter what we do. Help tell a visual tale about how we practice our daily lives.
Historic Albany: If you live in Albany, you know that we have deep historical roots. Our city has four nationally recognized historic districts. Albany’s architectural styles vary from the mid- 1800s to the 1950s. Grab a copy of “Seems Like Old Times” and document your personal visual tour or join us on one of the seasonal guided tours.
Culinary: We live in the proverbial bread-basket of culinary delights: farm-to- table special dinners; farmer’s markets; renowned and award-winning chefs; cozy coffee houses, bakeries; wineries and breweries; German and Hungarian restaurants. Our city bubbles over with bounty. Visit a local restaurant or a unique foodie or drink venue and let people know what delicious rewards await them.
Student: For young photographers ages 17 and under.
Open: All things Oregon! All phases of life including nature at her finest—animals, waterfalls, rainbows, cycling, old kitchen sinks (wink wink)—you name it. If it doesn’t fit into one of the categories above, submit it under “open.”
The contest is open to all ages, all skill levels—from amateur to professional or hobbyist. We encourage teachers to involve their students.
Winning photos will be on display at the Albany Visitors Association, the Amtrak Train Station. Ribbons and prizes will be awarded for Overall and Reserve Champions, Individual Category winners, and People’s Choice at a reception. Those attending the reception, the time and place of which will be announced, will have the opportunity to win door prizes. All winners will be entered into a special drawing for a Gift Card in the amount of $200—shop for a new lens, memory card, or whatever you like! (If you’d like to see the video of the 2019 contest winning photos, scroll to below the entry forms section.)
You must fill out all required forms to complete your entry. Click on the link to download to your computer and print. Please submit all pertinent paper work with your entry. *Note: Remember to submit the model release form for entries with people in your photos and videos.
Download the photo contest rules PDF (*Please note, the “open” category was inadvertently left off this list of rules. Please see above categories for 2020. Confirm that you are entering in the open category when you fill out your entry form.) 2020 Photo Rules
Download the photo contest entry form PDF Entry Form
Download the photo contest release form PDF Photo contest release form
Download the model release form PDF Model release form
All entries must be received by us on Friday, March 6, 2020, by 5:00 p.m.
*Featured image for this blog post of the Pacific Northwest Art & Air Festival by Oliver J. Anderson, from the 2018 AVA Photo Contest
We like to think of February in Albany, Oregon, as a time to establish new traditions and fall in love with the lush Willamette Valley all over again.
AVA pulled out a curated list of events (something for everyone in the family) from our regular calendar to help you create your own itinerary for a February visit. You might find so much to do that spending the night at one of our local lodging properties just makes sense—go ahead and link to our “Sweet Dreams” page and find the perfect spot for a romantic getaway. (And check back here soon for any specials our hoteliers maybe running.)
Jan. 31 and Feb. 1st Have you pieced together your Albany road trip yet? Hope you remembered to stitch the Willamette Valley Quilt Show in. So don’t hem and haw, see you on January 31st and February 1st at the Linn County Expo Center. (Ooooph—these puns!) Learn more about the show on our blog.
Feb. 1st The Vintage Roost’s Valentine Shop opens Feb. 1st and is filled to the brim with handmade gifts, antiques and vintage charm, chocolates and delicious baked goods, and much MUCH more. For information call 541-990-4191. The show continues Feb. 7th and 8th. The charming Roost is located at 935 NW Scenic Drive in Albany. Visit their Facebook page for more information.
Feb. 1st Get to crackin’! It’s time for the Greater Albany Rotary Club Crab Fest on Saturday, noon to 7 pm. This annual festival features fresh Dungeness crab, pulled pork, clam chowder, live music and great wine and beer from Calapooia Brewing,140 Hill St SE in Albany. Raffle prizes awarded throughout the day. For information and tickets visit the event website.
Feb. 1st and 2nd The Mountain Top Mud Bogs open up for a splattering good time at the “2020 Winter Wheeling” event. New challenges and courses have been created at this Scio-area open-wheeling mud bog. More info on the organizer Facebook page.
Feb. 6th Have fun in style with your BFF at Albany Antique Mall’s 10th Annual Ladies Night Out. Enjoy tasty chocolate, good company and great deals (special sales offered by most dealers). For information visit the event organizer website.
Feb. 7th – First Friday in Downtown Albany
The theme for this month’s downtown Albany First Friday is chocolate and romance. We’ve listed only a couple of places to get started, but visit the event organizer’s Facebook page to get the full lowdown about participating shops and restaurants, and their extended hours of operation.
Feb. 8th It’s a sweetheart of a day when you run for a great cause at the 6th Annual Sweetheart Run. This event will be a chip-timed run with family activities designed to demonstrate community participation in support of Parks and Recreation programs. It all takes place starting at 10 a.m. at Sankey Park’s Historic Weddle Covered Bridge in Sweet Home. Registration and event info on the organizer’s website.
Feb. 8th and Feb. 15th The much beloved “scatterbrained” scarecrow from Oz has a story to tell all his own, so save the date for a family-oriented performance of “A Scarecrow in Oz” at the Russell Tripp Center. Children will love this short play that takes place at 2 p.m. on both performance dates. Tickets and other info online.
Feb. 9th is Oscar Night at the Pix Theater in downtown Albany. Come dressed to the nines and get ready to root for your favorite stars at this FREE live broadcast on the big screen. Doors open 4 p.m. See you there!
Feb. 9th Time to plan your most romantic day ever, at the Albany Bridal Show from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Albany Golf and Events Center. This annual event (its 20th anniversary!) is sponsored by Merrime Bridal & Soirée and The Natty Dresser. Tickets are available online at Eventbrite.
Feb. 12th Ever wonder what life was like for women and children during the Civil War era? Plan on attending another fascinating Albany Regional Museum’s History Bites presentation at noon, and peek into the past through 1860s garments. This is a free event, although donations are gratefully accepted by the non-profit museum. You can check out the rest of the exhibits while you’re there!
Feb. 14th – 16th “Racking” your brains about how to enjoy the cold weather? Grab your “deer” pals and head over to the Willamette Sportsman’s Show at the Linn County Expo Center. Check out all the info, including discounted admission opportunities and hours on the organizer website. (Ooooh—not again with those bad puns!)
Feb. 14th Romance is in the air and on the train—the Santiam Excursion Trains that is. Make it a sweet evening and dine aboard with fabulous food from Honeybrine Catering. This is a 21-and-over evening. Make your reservations online.
Feb. 14th and 15th Take your valentine to tea and steep your day in romance. The IVY Tearoom in historic downtown Albany is serving up a romantic tea at noon. Seating is limited so make those reservations now: 541-928-7330.
Feb. 21 – 23rd Come check out the fun at the upcoming Linn County Kennel Club Dog Show and fall in love with pups! This three day event includes activities for the kids, canine agility trials and the much-adored puppy competition. So mark your calendars for Feb 21 – 23 at the Linn County Expo Center. More info on the club’s website.
It’s not too early to plan ahead for the most popular winter quilt show in Oregon, as the Willamette Valley Quilt Festival arrives on January 31 and February 1, 2020, at the Linn County Expo Center.
A show patterned from innovation
As Americans, we possess a rich legacy of quilt-making and design, so it’s not surprising quilt festivals have become increasingly popular over the last decade. Quilts are complex works of colorful folk art, as mysterious as a corn-maze — and festivals are the perfect place to showcase local talent.
Several years ago, two Albany business owners teamed up to plan a winter quilt show. The Rich family (of Rich’s Sewing & Vacuum) and their staff, and the owners of Albany’s Bolts to Blocks (Barb and Pete Schoonover), launched the first Willamette Valley Quilt Festival in 2018. Their idea was to hold the event during the rainy season and provide quilt designers a creative outlet to counteract the mid-winter blues.
Last year’s quilt festival was a rousing success and attracted thousands of visitors to the Linn County Expo Center. There were over 300 quilts on display and a wide assortment of vendors, classes and demonstrations.
At the 2020 show (January 31st through February 1st) the number of vendors has once again increased and will include booths filled with tools, machines, handcrafted items such as handbags and scarves, quilting kits and templates, fabric, clothing, home decor and, of course, an amazing gallery of quilts.
The quilt contest portion of the show will interest art and craft lovers, whether they sew or not. Wide aisles beckon with a cornucopia of pattern. Quilts of all sizes reflect the imagination of their creators. You’ll even be able to vote for your favorite, if you can decide which you like best.
A $3,000 Babylock Soprano sewing machine will be awarded as the contest’s grand prize. The “Mayor’s Choice Award” from Albany Mayor Sharon Konopa and the Albany Visitors Association will be filled with goodies like wine from Springhill Cellars Winery and gift certificates to local restaurants and businesses.
Classes and demonstrations
Whether you are an experienced quilter or just starting out, workshops will be offered throughout Friday and Saturday at the main festival location (Linn County Expo Center). Instruction topics include using Oregon-made templates by Westalee, ruler work, embroidery, quilt design and laser-cut appliqué.
On Thursday, January 30, a special pre-show workshop will be taught by the festival’s 2020 Featured Quilter, Sheila Sinclair Snyder, owner of Licensed to Quilt in Junction City, Oregon. Snyder will guide participants in creating quilt paintings on rustic barn wood. The workshop will be held at Bolts to Blocks new location, 950 SE Geary, Suite C, in Albany.
All classes require pre-registration; contact Rich’s Sewing & Vacuum of Albany to reserve your space. (See contact information in the “What to know if you go” section.)
Demonstrations and presentations conducted throughout the main expo hall are free with paid admission.
What to know if you go
The 2020 Willamette Valley Quilt Festival will be held 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday, January 31 and February 1. The event is inside the main exhibit hall at the Linn County Expo Center, 3700 Knox Butte Rd. in Albany, Oregon. Admission is $7, parking is free. Tickets may be purchased at the show or pre-paid online.
Pre-show activities on Thursday, January 30th and workshops on Friday and Saturday require registration. Contact Rich’s Sewing & Vacuum in Albany for workshop pricing and times. For more information telephone 541-926-4842.
If you are traveling to the show and plan to spend the night, get a special Albany Visitors Association rate with our featured hotels, the Best Western Plus Prairie Inn or Quality Inn & Suites by asking for the “AVA Rate” when reserving your room.
Best Western Plus Prairie Inn 541-928-5050
Quality Inn & Suites 541-928-0921
Food and fun
While at the show, enjoy delicious food truck selections from Grindz Hawaiian, Natalie’s Mexi-Kart, Dajoy’s Kettle Korn and Double J BBQ. An onsite espresso bar and catered kitchen selections will be operating within the main exhibit hall.
For ideas about where to meet friends for dinner after the show, make sure to visit the Albany Visitors Association booth in the main exhibit hall. We’ll have restaurant guides, city maps and everything you need for a great night or two on the town. We can also help you find places for breakfast and brunch, desserts and more. Check our “Spirited Cuisine” page for a full list.
You can also download the “Albany Explorer App” for iPhone or Android. Simply search for the Albany Explorer App in Google Play or Apple App Stores. The app is jam-packed with fun things to do.
And no trip to Albany is complete without a fun-filled visit to the Albany Historic Carousel & Museum. Ride tokens are $2 each and admission is free.
We also recommend stopping by the Albany Regional Museum and Monteith House Museum to learn more about Oregon pioneer history and the local culture, and take a self-guided tour through one of our four National Historic Districts. Visit our “Dive Into History” web page for more information on Albany’s historic roots.
See you at the show!
What is the perfect holiday present for a foodie friend? We suggest a gift certificate to one of our celebrated restaurants where Oregon truffles and Willamette Valley wine and spirits intersect. At Sybaris Bistro, Chef Matt Bennett creates dishes worthy of the James Beard House. So don’t journey afar to dine on sublime — visit Albany and celebrate the rest of the season in January and February.
Once your friends (and hopefully you) receive their gift certificates, stay tuned for 2020’s Oregon truffle bounty at Sybaris. Telephone 541-928-8157 to secure a gift certificate.
You can read about their 2019 Oregon Truffle Feast in the blog-post below.
What do wild Oregon-grown truffles have in common with James Beard and Albany, Oregon? Quite a bit as it turns out—and the 2019 Oregon Truffle Feast at Sybaris Bistro illustrates the connection perfectly.
Master chef James Beard was a writer, teacher, and champion of American cuisine. Born in Portland, Oregon, Beard was a big fan of Oregon’s truffles, that at times were dismissed by European chefs as “false truffles.”
Beard was still a young cook when he established his home and career in New York City. He authored cookbooks, became a television cooking show personality, and opened a cooking school in Manhattan (as well as Seaside, Oregon). In the 1950s he was dubbed “… the face and belly of American gastronomy,” as noted by David Kamp in The United States of Arugula.
Beard’s legacy for cooking with fresh local and seasonal ingredients was handed down to many a talented chef after he passed away in 1985. His personal home in New York City became part of a working foundation that showcases talented chefs and regional American cooking.
To cook at James Beard House is an honor for chefs—and Sybaris Bistro’s owner, Matt Bennett, is no exception.
Chef Bennett was invited for his third appearance at Beard House this past January, where he served his unique interpretation of Pacific Northwest Cuisine—building a seven course menu featuring wild Oregon truffles.
In preparation for the New York dinner, Bennett and his team prepared and hosted two Albany, Oregon-based suppers to coincide with Oregon’s Truffle Festival. Both dinners were sold out almost as soon as they were announced.
Menus for the Albany and James Beard House dinners were similar with minor variations. They both featured a series of gastronomical delights such as hazelnut foie gras with black truffle, black truffle miso marinated black cod, double white truffle pheasant breast with truffle buttered cabbage, and the pièce de résistance: a black truffle pot de creme with hazelnut oil gelato and truffle and hazelnut streusel.
All ingredients, including wine pairings, were sourced by Bennett, his wife Janel and the Sybaris staff. They were transported by the bistro team in coolers shipped in place of personal luggage. Carefully watched over and guarded, the truffles, black cod, pheasant, Dungeness crab and Oregon-grown vegetables safely arrived in New York.
AVA was lucky enough to have a seat at Sybaris’ truffle feast. Chef Bennett regaled diners with tales about Oregon truffles, the reasons behind the menu he created, and a bit about James Beard’s gastronomical history and the famous house where his truffle feast was to be featured.
We delighted not only in Sybaris’ ambience, with its enormous fireplace and cozy crackling fire, exposed brick walls, plank tables, starched napkins and stellar tableside service, but in chef’s creativity and delicious sense of humor.
A sometimes overlooked ingredient (pig’s foot!) was used to construct a sausage-like croquette with wild mushrooms and white truffle verjus. Bennett’s unusual selection was a bit of tongue in cheek homage to the French method that utilizes pigs to harvest truffles. Bennett is well known for his dishes that are metaphors for their inspiration as well as their roots.
Sybaris Bistro’s dinner menus change monthly, featuring locally sourced fresh ingredients in season. It’s no wonder Bennett captured the attention of the James Beard Foundation—he warm-heartedly embraces the core Beard value to cook with what is available within reach.
If you want to experience Sybaris in a Beard-like manner, stay tuned to their Facebook and website. Bennett and his culinary team create special themed dinners to celebrate holidays with limited dining events such as “A Dickens Dinner” or Valentines Day. These menus typically feature multiple courses with additional wine pairings. They’re a great way to jump into Bennett’s “style de cuisine” and either celebrate the end to an extended weekend or start one out.
Whatever draws you to Albany, a visit to Sybaris Bistro in 2020 should definitely be part of your travel itinerary.
*Blog content copyright 2019 by AVA, written by Maddie MacGregor. All photos (except for Chef Bennett profile), by AO Films.
Although not required for regular dinner service, reservations are advised. Sybaris is enormously popular with the locals as much as with culinary travelers. Specially themed dinner events almost always sell out ahead of time, so make those reservations early.
Sybaris is located at 442 First Ave W, in Albany, Oregon. The bistro is closed Sundays and Mondays, and open from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Telephone 541-928-8157 for reservations or to purchase a gift certificate. Check out the monthly menus (gluten-free included) on their website at https://sybarisbistro.com.
First of all, congratulations to all of this year’s winners in this colorful display of community holiday spirit, and thanks to all of the participants. Below is a map and list of winners for this year’s contest. So, travel around at dusk and enjoy all of the submissions. Bundle up, pack the popcorn, a thermos of hot cocoa and warm up the car. It’s time to see the lights!
And the runners-up are…
Winners will receive a Winner Award Certificate and a $50 gift card to Albany’s downtown first-run movie house, The Pix Theatre.
Are you the Albany neighbor whose fantastic yard decorations are on everyone’s holiday must-see list? Then make sure you enter the “33rd Annual Night Time Magic Holiday Light Contest” in 2020. Albany Visitors Association hosts this fun event for our community each December.
You can take inspiration for your display from a family tradition, a favorite holiday movie or book, music and other creative arts, or whatever strikes your fancy. Lights can be any color, as well as clear. If you have large exterior decorations, light them up!
Once all entries have been received and the judging is complete, we will publish a map of the participating addresses so that visitors can take a festive tour of the neighborhood.
Entry forms are available at the AVA office, M-F, 9 – 5, Sat 9 – 3, at 110 3rd Ave SE, Albany, OR or download a PDF entry form. Deadline for the 2020 submissions will be announced at a later date *The contest is open to Albany city-limits residents only.
Telephone us if you have any questions: 541-928-0911.
*Large photo at top of page by Cathy Webb.
Searching for a jolly weekend getaway? Look no more — visit Albany from October through January and discover a unique blend of history and hip. Create a new family tradition this holiday season by exploring some of our favorite ideas below.
Our lodging partners recognize holidays can be exhausting — especially if you’re away from home. Have no fear, the world will appear much brighter after a little pampering! Sink into a deep and comfy oversized chair next to a crackling fire in a festive lobby. Enjoy a complimentary hot breakfast, free WiFi, free parking, fluffy pillows and hot coffee.
Several Albany hoteliers have partnered with Albany Visitors Association to bring you cozy accommodations for the holidays. From November to January, the Phoenix Inn & Suites, Comfort Inn, Quality Inn, Holiday Inn Express, and Best Western Plus Prairie Inn usually offer holiday specials. Book direct and mention AVA to take advantage of great rates.
For history and architecture buffs, the newly restored Historic 206 ½ Hotel provides a satisfying immersion into Albany’s downtown roots. Its proximity to restaurants, shops, coffee houses and bakeries and the Albany Historic Carousel & Museum make it an explorer’s dream.
Find your own good night’s sleep; view AVA’s lodging directory.
Trolley of Terror Climb aboard a spookily decorated trolley and be treated to a candlelit tour of the historic (and reportedly haunted) Monteith House. This is a family-friendly event and is appropriate (not too scary) for all ages. Each tour takes about an hour. Be forewarned: tickets generally sell out weeks before the tours, so reserve your spot today: 541-928-0911. AVA can securely process your payment over the phone. Tours begin on October 18th, at 6:00 p.m. (and hourly up to 9:00 p.m.) over two consecutive weekends. Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for children 12 and under.
VIP Ghost Hunt Join a group of professional and amateur ghostbusters as they set up monitoring equipment inside the Monteith House and search for spectral evidence. Adults only please, as the hunt extends into the “witching hour.” Cost is $55 per person and event admission is by reservation and pre-payment only, 541-928-0911.There are two dates set for the hunt: October 19th and 20th, 10:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.
Albany Veterans Day Parade
Albany is famous for the size and scope of its historic Veterans Day Parade — it is the biggest memorial parade in the state and has the distinction of being the largest parade of its kind west of the Mississippi River. Traditionally held on the actual holiday, the 67th annual parade begins at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, Nov 11, 2019.
Marching bands, bagpipes, living history re-enactment brigades, horses, llamas, canines, troops, veterans, floats and military vehicles make their way up Lyon Street and through downtown Albany. You’ll want to find a place to watch early as this is one of the highest attended events in our city. For more information, visit the event website.
Thanksgiving in Wine (and libations) Country Although the grapes were harvested earlier in the year, there’s still plenty of ways to sample the area’s bounty. Take your time — the Willamette Valley is a prize-winning international wine-growing region. We are also part of the craft-brew revolution. Plan several days in Albany and visit some of the best distilleries, breweries, ale-houses, tap houses and meaderies in the valley.
Start with a short drive from your hotel to the picturesque countryside. As you cross the Willamette River, you’re two miles from Springhill Cellars Winery. Over Thanksgiving weekend (Nov 29th – Dec 1st) the winery hosts its annual Federweisser Festival. Federweisser is a young, newly fermented varietal. Accompanying it (and Springhill’s French-method Pinot Noir), you’ll enjoy German music, handcrafted sausages and sauerkraut and a barn dance on Friday night. Visit Springhill’s website for more information.
Following your Springhill adventure, visit Deluxe Brewing and Sinister Distilling Company. The tasting room is open seven days per week and the flights they are a-flying! Take a free tour of the brewery and enjoy some of the best limited-edition whiskey in Oregon. Check their website for tasting hours.
A short walk from Deluxe and Sinister, enjoy brew pub gourmet grub and live music at Calapooia Brewery. And within close proximity, Three Sheets Brewery, No Rails Ale House, Growler Garage, The Barn at Hickory Station, and Vagabond serve up excellent brews, ciders and meads.
If you crave vibrant cocktails and a lively atmosphere, sample local wines and a charcuterie plate at Sweet Red Bistro; cocktails and tapas at the sophisticated Vault 244; or happy hour drinks and famous pork belly fries at Frankie’s.
Small Business Saturday – Shop Small
If you’re visiting Oregon from a neighboring state, you know we are one of the best places to shop small and unique on the West Coast—our entire state is sales-tax free!
Stroll through our Downtown Historic District and visit galleries, hip clothing boutiques, gift, garden and pet stores, a men’s haberdashery, and shops that feature antiques and vintage furnishings, jewelry and books, and even fly-fishing paraphernalia. Most downtown businesses participate in Shop Small 2019 (the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Nov 29th) with special sales.
You should have enough change left in your wallet to splurge on a first-run movie at the historic Pix Theater or enjoy a live theatrical performance at the Albany Civic Theater.
Christmas Storybook Land Bring the family to an enchanted “forest” of trees, miniature buildings, holiday lights, snowy scenery, mechanized displays, and visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Costumed characters roam the aisles, mesmerizing both toddlers and school-aged children. This enormous seasonal village is built by volunteers and is open Dec 6th – 20th at the Linn County Expo Center. All ages will love this activity and we think you’ll want to make it part of your new holiday tradition. This is a free event, although you are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items for a local food pantry. Hours vary, so visit the event website for admission information.
Christmas Parlour Tour
Albany’s historic homeowners typically celebrate the holidays by hanging cedar swags, colorful lights and other seasonal regalia along porches and eaves. However, the Christmas Parlour Tour is an “insider’s” peek into the past.
Participating historic homes and buildings throughout the Hackleman, Monteith, and Downtown Commercial Districts open their doors to tour participants. Meet the owners and learn about the architecture, the original occupants, and the ins and outs of restoring historic structures.
You can opt to ride a vintage trolley or horse-drawn wagon to the various stops, or drive, walk, bike or hike the tour on your own. Tickets will be available online in mid-November. Tour proceeds benefit the non-profit Monteith House Museum. This year (2019) the tour will be held on Sunday, Dec 8th, from 2:00 to 7:00 p.m. Telephone 541-928-0911 for more information.
Downtown Twice Around Christmas Parade Looking for family fun and a traditional Christmas event? Enjoy an evening parade in Downtown Albany, as decorated floats and vintage vehicles usher Santa and Mrs. Claus to the community tree lighting — after circling “twice around” downtown. This year (2019), the event is held on Dec 1st, from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Visit the organizer website.
Christmas Caroling Wagon Ride Another affordable family event is Monteith House Society’s Christmas Caroling By Wagon. Beautiful draft horses are decked out in sleigh bell harnesses and vintage trolley and wagons are draped in colorful lights. After shouting “Jingle jingle all the way” through downtown, the ride ends at Monteith House Museum for holiday refreshments.
Caroling will be held this year (2019) on Dec 14, 15, 20th, 21st, and 22nd, in hourly slots between 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Ticket prices to be announced closer to the event. Telephone AVA 541-928-0911 for more information.