Celebrate fresh and locally grown – Albany Farmers’ Market

If battling crowded indoor grocery stores has you feeling down, here’s some good news: The Albany Farmers’ Market has been deemed as an essential service provider and will open on Saturday, April 18, However, be prepared for a few important operational changes, focused on keeping everyone healthy.

Location and facilities

Photo of woman with vegetables.In Albany, the Farmers’ Market is in the City Hall parking lot at 4th and Ellsworth and an adjacent slice of 4th Avenue. Portable restrooms will replace access to City Hall restrooms, since public buildings are closed.

Market shoppers can use features on www.locallygrown.org to search for particular vendors and view interactive maps showing the approximate location of vendors on each market day.

Hours for the Albany Farmers’ Market are 9 am to 1 pm.

How temporary safeguards will affect your market experience

Any activities that might tempt people to linger or stand closer than six feet apart have been suspended temporarily. This includes the normal musical or children’s entertainment. These measures will stay in place until the Governor’s Office institutes new action.

Open air and wide aisles are two factors that local farmers’ markets have going in their favor. But the market and our farmers and producers need full cooperation from customers to stay open and keep our community safe.

Market temporary dos and don’ts

Please follow the advice of the market’s organizers:

  • Stay home if you feel the least bit unwell or have been near anyone who might have been exposed or who exhibits symptoms
  • Wash your hands frequently – before coming to the market
  • One shopper per household. Shop for others who should not go out
  • Shop with your eyes and buy what you touch
  • Shop for what you need, but don’t linger. This is difficult because farmers’ markets are such social places and we are drawn to chatting with our producers. But now is the time to keep your neighbor safe.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from other shoppers
  • No eating at market. Order your food to go, do not eat your veggies or fruit while walking around.
  • Thoroughly wash all produce and fruit when you get home. Clean any packages or transfer to your own containers for storage.

 

Other ways to get local food and support local businesses

Locally Grown’s web page has a new tab with a list of farms and other vendors who are doing online sales, delivery or pickup options. The purpose is to help local small farms and anyone who is not able to attend farmers’ markets. At the same time, the Albany and Corvallis Farmers’ Markets are collaborating on a statewide effort to adopt an online pre-order system with delivery at farmers’ market sites. The aim is to speed transaction times. In person sales will still take place.

SNAP and Double Up Food Bucks

Corvallis-Albany Farmers’ Markets (CAFM) and the smaller area farmers’ markets in Linn and Benton counties always redeem SNAP benefits (commonly called food stamps) on customers’ Oregon Trail cards. Matching programs, which potentially double the amount that SNAP customers spend on fresh and local foods, go a step further by helping families stretch their food dollars. CAFM will return to using Double Up Food Bucks vouchers. Even dollar amounts are matched. Normally the match is capped at $10 per market day. Through April, all Double Up markets are matching SNAP purchases up to $20.

Other nutrition programs

Another program that increases access to high-quality foods among low-income households is the Farm Direct Nutrition program, which includes both young families (WIC or Women, Infants and Children) and seniors. Gleaning groups also collect perishable produce from vendors and distribute to others in need.

Welcome back to all

We really hope that as we move forward with ways to shop fresh and local that you will consider shopping at our wonderful outdoor market in Downtown Albany. We will be back stronger than ever and look forward to celebrating with the vendors.

*Image of carrots and Camron Ridge Farmstand from our 2020 AVA Photo contest.

Vote for you fave photo – People’s Choice

photo of a giant parade salmon about to "eat" a kid all in fun at the Albany Parade of the Species

Here’s a great fun activity for your stay-home-stay-safe day: Help us select the winner of the People’s Choice Award in the 2020 Albany Visitors Association Photo Contest.

It’s easy: Just go to our Flickr account and connect to our 2020 contest albums. You’ll find several categories to look through. As you make your way through, select your favorites by clicking on the “star” icon. (You can only vote once on any of the images.)

We will leave voting up for the entire month of April,so help share the news.

And why not make it a family activity that you can involve the kids in? Try and see if you can count the number of different animals in the photos or try and name the various sites you see. Feel free to post your totals here in the comments. And keep tuned to Facebook for more family online fun.

All-righty folks, go vote! 

Keeping travel safe

A public health poster from the CDC to encourage hand washing

Photo of a healthcare professional in a white lab coat holding a red stethoscope

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/

Closures of note

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.

Resources

A public health poster from the CDC to encourage hand washingFor 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!

Win an overnight stay in Albany, Oregon

Graphic showing the logos and photo of Marcy the Unicorn promoting the Albany Visitors Association Spring Contest

Graphic depicting logos of contest prize suppliers for Albany Visitors Association Spring Trivia ContestDo 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)

Enter the 2020 AVA Photo Contest

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.

Award Ceremony

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.

Focus

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.

Image resolution and more

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.

AVA Annual Photo Contest Categories

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.”

Who can enter?

The contest is open to all ages, all skill levels—from amateur to professional or hobbyist. We encourage teachers to involve their students.

Prizes

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.)

Download entry forms and all documents

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

View last year’s winners and get ideas

 

February in Albany – So many ways to fall in love

Photo of shabby chic antiques and Valentine crafts at Vintage Roost Seasonal Shop

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.)

The Highlights

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.

Photo of the Albany Crab FestFeb. 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.

  • Photo of several small art pieces.Feb. 7th First Friday at Gallery Calapooia on First Avenue in Downtown Albany runs from 5:30 to 8 pm. Come see the “Big Show of Little Art” and check out what local students and artists from around the region have created with pieces all the same diminutive size of 8” by 8”.
  • Feb. 7th Another First Friday event at Urban Ag Supply, from 6 to 8 pm. Dive head first into chocolate tea! Well, not literally, but at least steep in the delights of Oregon company Inspired Leaf and sample Toffee Chocolate Hazelnut, White Chocolate Orange and Salted Dark Chocolate. For more info visit Urban Ag Supply online.

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.

Graphic of Scarecrow and event information.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.

Photo of women enjoying high tea service at the IVY Tearoom in Albany, OregonFeb. 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.

Get ready for the Third Annual Willamette Valley Quilt Festival

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

Photo of a Quilt from the 2019 Willamette Valley Quilt FestivalAs 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.

Quilt contest

Photo of a a couple of quilts hanging up at the Willamette Valley Quilt FestivalThe 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

Photo of a quilt hanging up at the Willamette Valley Quilt ShowThe 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.

Staying over 

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

For other great choices, connect to our website’s “Sweet Dreams” lodging directory.

Food and fun 

Photo of a red and white quilt at the Willamette Valley Quilt ShowWhile 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!

Celebrating the celebrated – the gift of Oregon truffles

Photo of the interior of Sybaris Bistro and patrons enjoying dinner in Albany Oregon

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.

Historical appreciation

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.

Photo showing food from the kitchen being placed onto the hot plate for wait staff at Sybaris Bistro in Albany OregonMaster 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.

An Oregon Truffle Feast

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.

A local culinary genius

Photo of plates of truffle infused menu items sitting on the hot plate at Sybaris Bistro in Albany OregonAVA 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.

Photo of the interior of Sybaris Bistro in Albany OregonSybaris 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.

What to know if you go

Photo of two women drinking wine and laughing at Sybaris Bistro in Albany OregonAlthough 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.

Let there be lights – the holiday contest

A historic home in Albany Oregon lit with Christmas lights and decorations on the exterior

The 2019 Winners of the Albany Light Contest

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!

Download pdf of Light Contest Winners

And the winners are…

  • “Snowman Santa Christmas Lights,” 1350 NW Springhill Dr., Albany, OR 97321
  • “Candy Cane Come Back,” 3030 Lawnridge St. SW, Albany, OR 97321
  • “Christmas Dragster,” 2820 Lawnridge St. SW, Albany, OR 97321
  • “Best Dressed Historic Home,” 240 4th SE, Albany, OR 97321
  • “Santa, Stop Here!,” 4219 Winners Circle Ave. SE, Albany, OR 97322
  • “Christmas Spirit on Waverly Drive,” 1924 Waverly Dr. SE, Albany, OR 97322

 And the runners-up are…

  • “Santa’s Landing,” 626 34th Ave. SE, Albany, OR 97322
  • “Lights, Lights & More Lights,” 1327 North Albany Rd. NW, Albany, OR 97321

Winners will receive a Winner Award Certificate and a $50 gift card to Albany’s downtown first-run movie house, The Pix Theatre.

The Contest Details for 2020

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.

Photo of Albany Oregon lit with multi-colored Christmas lights in the shape of Santa Claus

Christmas In Albany by Dina Ratzlaff

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

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.

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