History, Holidays, and Horses

Image of large draft horses hitched to wagon and wearing Christmas harnesses in front of the Monteith House Museum in Albany, Oregon. A sunset shines pink behind the silhouette of trees.

Are you a romantic soul yearning for a Victorian Christmas? If so, you really need to know about the Albany Annual Christmas Parlour Tour of Historic Homes and Buildings. Coming up on Sunday, December 9, 2018, from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., the 39th annual tour will feature beautifully decorated historic houses, museums, churches, historic library, and a downtown loft. This is one of only two tours offered per year that include interiors of historic homes.

(*Win tickets to this event; see below in the “Win free tickets” section!)

Father Christmas will be out with an enormous bag of treats and the Monteith House and Museum will be lit by oil lamp and fire-light, warming your spirit.

Chafin Farms’ beautiful draft horses will merrily transport you around the historic districts with sleigh bells jingling, and the antique trolley will transport you back to a different era. Tour participants will be encouraged to ring the church bell at Whitespires Church and the fireplace will be crackling at the Carnegie Library.

While the tour is considered “self-guided,” you can ride either the trolley or the horse and wagon around to each stop (this is included in the ticket price) or drive your own car, trek by bike or two legs, or any other mode of alternative transportation. A map will be provided the day of the tour.

This jolly holiday event includes refreshments and loads of happiness, all for the ticket price of $15. Tickets can be purchased ahead of the tour online or the day of the tour, at Albany Visitors Association. 

Win free tickets

We will be giving away three pairs of tickets ($30 value) to the tour! Simply subscribe to our monthly events e-newsletter between November 20th and December 1st to be entered in the drawing. Current subscribers are included. We will contact winners on December 4th.

A Dickens Christmas Dinner Benefit at Sybaris

After the Parlour Tour, you have an opportunity to attend an absolutely divine benefit supper. Sybaris Bistro will host a “historic” dinner at their restaurant on December 9th at 5:00 p.m. This dinner is the fourth “Let Kids be Kids,” event, and will raise funds for local underprivileged children to ride the Albany Historic Carousel.  

The menu includes chilled pheasant pie with wassail jelly, goose “ham,” pease porridge, mock turtle soup, smoked trout kedgeree, roasted pork loin with sugar plum gravy, roasted potatoes, plum pudding with hard sauce, real English Stilton, fruits and nuts, and oat biscuits.

The cost is $50 per person, $75 with wine pairing; gratuity not included.  Please, don’t be a Scrooge, raise your glasses for kids who need passes! Telephone Sybaris for the all important reservation: 541-928-8157.

The 2018 Albany geocache hunt is on

It’s time once again, to join a fun day of discovery through geocaching. Local geocacher and enthusiast Don Bacher has organized the 2018 Albany Coin Challenge that takes place for one day only, Saturday, August 25th.

This year’s event will start at 10:00 a.m. at Allann Bros warehouse, 1852 Fescue St. SE, Exit 233 going north or south on I-5 (N 44 37.497 W 123 03.645). There is plenty of parking.

A new series of Albany locations—homes from the National Historic Districts—have been added to this year’s challenge. As in previous years, the course has been determined, and each geocaching household will be issued a challenge passport. The course has been carefully laid out so that you will also have the opportunity to find caches in the area.

Completed passports can be brought to Ciddici’s Pizza, 133 SW 5th Street (N 44 38.066 W 123 06.229) between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. the day of the event. One-hundred and fifty coins have been ordered, so everyone who receives a passport is guaranteed a coin.

Along with the hunt, there will be great door prizes handed out during the coin distribution. These prizes are donated by local businesses, and drawings will be held on the half hour.

This is a family event and we encourage you to bring your kids and grandkids. There’s something for all ages.

The 2018 coin was created by Jessica Dilbone, and features a design that includes Mary’s Peak, the Willamette and Calapooia Rivers running through Albany, and the fir tree from Oregon’s license plates. Another one-of-a-kind coin that you will be delighted to add to your collection. 

We hope to see you at Allan Bros. on the 25th. Happy hunting!

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.

The 2017 Night Time Magic Holiday Light Winners

The Albany Visitors Association is proud to announce the winners of  The 2017 Night Time Magic Holiday Light & Decorating Contest

And the winners are …

  • Piedmont Christmas Cul-de-sac, 6127 Piedmont Pl SW, Albany, OR 97321
  • It’s the Most Magical Time of the Year, 3849 Oakmont Loop NE, Albany, OR 97322


  • Let there be light, 797 Fairmont Drive NE, Albany, OR 97322
  • Candy Cane Colored Cape Cod Colonial, 1122 11th Ave SW Albany, Oregon 97321
  • Holiday Greetings in Downtown Albany, No Dinx Inc., 139 SE 1st Ave, 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. Photos of the winning homes will be on display at the Pix Theatre and on the Albany Visitors Association website along with a list of locations to see. Winners will also be entitled to bragging rights for the entire year! Thank you to all the homeowners who participate in this program. Without your efforts, this wonderful community tradition would not be possible.

Get your map

Want to take a drive with the family and see the lights in person? Download the PDF of the winners’ map, or pick one up from our office at Third and Lyon.

2017 Albany Photo Contest Awards

dan_batemanWe invite you to join us this coming Friday the 17th (St. Paddy’s Day) to celebrate the winning entries in the 2017 AVA Photo Contest. The photographers will be awarded ribbons and their images on display on AVA’s walls. It promises to be a fun event, so please come and see the amazing work of your Albany neighbors. We will be here from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. with conversation and refreshments.

Announcing the 2017 AVA Photo Contest

Bill_OrigerThe time has arrived for all our shutterbugs to polish their lenses and head on out to the great outdoors. It’s the 2017 Albany Visitors Association Photo Contest and you don’t want to miss this great opportunity to have your artistry shared with thousands.

This is your chance to enter your work into several categories that might end up gracing the cover of our largest annual publication, The 2018 Albany Visitor Guide. We also use contest submissions in other publications and advertising that is seen across the US and internationally.

Focus your work on Linn County, Albany (and its many outlaying areas), and the Willamette Valley. We have so much to capture and share with the world about our amazing community and landscape.

In the “technical resources” section below, we’ve provided downloadable forms that contain the rules, image and use release, model release, and the full application to submit with your work. The AVA 2017 Photo Contest also accepts video work, so be sure to fill in the right form.

The deadline for all submissions is February 17, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. Submissions will be accepted at any time before that date and time. Please read the complete list of rules to find out what formats are accepted.

The following categories frame the 2017 AVA Photo Contest

  • Scenic
  • Landmarks
  • Events
  • Life in our community
  • Open (does not fit the above categories)
  • Historic Albany districts
  • Culinary
  • Video
  • Best cover photo

Please make sure to read the full document entitled “2017 Contest categories and deadlines” in the Technical Resources section below for a full explanation of the categories.


On March 8, 2017, an awards reception will be hosted at the Albany Visitors Association. The contest is open to photographers of all skill levels. First through third place ribbons will be given to winners in each of nine categories. Overall winner will be awarded Champion and Reserve Champion Ribbons. There will also be a ribbon awarded for Peoples Choice, with a winner voted for by the general public. Prizes will be awarded to Champion, Reserve Champion, and Peoples Choice winners.

Technical Resources

Photo contest cover letter from AVA: Download a brief explanation of how to complete your submission packet (PDF)

2017 Contest categories and deadlines: Download the categories and information on deadlines and awards (PDF)

Rules: Download the rules for the photo contest, still shots (PDF) (*Rules for video submissions are listed separately.) 

Photo contest submission form: Download the form for still photo entries (PDF) (*Video submissions forms listed separately.)

Photographer’s release form: Download the image or video release form (PDF) (*This is different than the model release form, and MUST accompany your entry to be considered for use in our publications, digital or print use.)

Model release form: Download the model release form (PDF) (*No entries featuring children, teens, or adults with recognizable faces will be considered without the model release form.)

Video contest rules: Download the video contest rules (PDF)

Video contest submission form: Download the video submission form (PDF)

Albany’s 2015 Night Time Magic Winners


The Albany Visitors Association is proud to announce the winners of The 2015 Night Time Magic Holiday Light & Decorating Contest! And the winners are …

222 Fourth SEBest Dressed Historic Home: 222 Fourth Avenue SE, Albany OR 97321. The J. Meyers House is a Queen Anne Cottage with East Lake elements (circa 1898). Many white lights highlight the architectural details of this house beautifully and bring a nostalgic feeling with classic red & green trim throughout their decorations.


1000 LincolnMemories of Christmas Past (Candy Cane Comeback): 1000 Lincoln St SW, Albany OR 97321. Remember those glowing candy canes that adorned the poles on Pacific Blvd in Albany? Well, a few of them still shine bright during the holidays, thanks to folks like these who bring them out to share this special time of year. This beautiful light display has been shining each year for the past 15 and we absolutely agree it is award worthy!

2905 LawnridgeFamily Traditions from One Generation to the Next: 2905 Lawnridge St SW, Albany OR 97321. So much to see. There is really no photo that could do this display justice, so you’ll just have to drive by to see for yourself. Every bush, building and pole, lit up to create a bright and awe-inspiring display. So much flair for the younger generation continuing the family tradition. They certainly have the knack for sharing that holiday spirit.

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! –Sid Stevens Jewelers, 140 First Avenue West, Albany, Oregon 97321. We whole-heartedly agree because everything is more magical when it snows! Every year residents and visitors are welcomed into the downtown shopping district by the warm glow of the c. 1925 Bikman Block dressed in style with lights and garland. Sid Steven’s gorgeous windows serve as an enticement to slow down, perhaps even stop and browse for a while in the not-so-hectic pace of Historic Downtown Albany, Oregon. (photo coming soon)


maps for  NTM 2015Map to award winners: click image to the left for a larger view, or click link to download a PDF:  map to 2015 award winners

Even more lights: Check out these past award winners, which are still gorgeously decorated and fun to visit!

Previous Holiday Light Award winners

1. 627 Broadalbin SW, Albany OR 97321
2. 4160 Evergreen Street SE, Albany OR 97322
3. 2110 Geary Street SE, Albany OR 97322
4. 2670 Kingston Way NW, Albany OR 97321
5. Washington Street houses, block 600

1. 514 NE 13th Ave.
2. Santa on the rooftop view from bridge & Water Ave.
3. 5th Avenue SW, block 800
4. 630 Seventh Avenue SW

1. 1001 Washington SW
2. 1830 12th Avenue SW
3. 3407 Pacific Blvd SW
4. 6127 Piedmont Pl. SW
5. 4295 Clay Place SE

1. 730 Washington SW
2. 425 6th Ave SW
3. 2893 E Mountain View Dr SE
4. 1340 NE Mayview Dr.
Multi-time repeat nominees that are always well worth a drive: Christmas Village at the Piedmont Neighborhood. This neighborhood pulls out all the stops! A delightful way to pass the time while waiting for the big day. Once through is just not enough.

Directions from Albany Visitors Association (110 3rd Avenue SE) to the Piedmont Neighborhood:
1. Head west on SE 3rd Ave. toward Ellsworth St. SW 50 ft.
2. Take second left onto US-20 W/? Ellsworth St. SW 50 ft
3. Turn right onto Pacific Blvd SW 0.5 mi
4. Turn right onto Belmont Ave. SW 2.9mi
5. Turn right onto Piedmont Pl. SW. 0.4mi


Prizes: 2015 Winners will receive a Winner Photo Award Certificate and a $50 gift card to Albany’s downtown first-run movie house: The Pix Theatre. Photos of the winning homes will be on display at the Pix Theatre and on the Albany Visitors Association website along with a list of locations to see. Winners will also be entitled to bragging rights for the entire year! (Thank you to all the homeowners who participate in this program. Without your efforts this wonderful community tradition would not be possible!)

Judging: The winners of the Night Time Magic Program are determined by a panel of judges who conduct individual random drive-by sightings between December 7 and 13. Homes must be nominated to win.

History: This is the 28th year that the Albany Visitors Association has been helping to make the holidays bright with the Annual Night Time Magic Holiday Light Program. All nominations receive recognition for participation in Albany’s Night Time Magic program. The reward for participation: Your holiday spirits will be lifted, your home brightened, your neighborhood enlightened and your community enlivened. If you are interested in being a part of Historic Albany’s “Magic,” contact the Albany Visitors Association, 110 3rd Ave SE, or call (541) 928-0911 to receive future announcements. People wishing to look at the participating locations can pick up a list of winners and directions at the Albany Visitors Association or find it online at albanyvisitors.com. A special thanks to Burcham’s Metals for helping to make the season bright.


Albany’s Night Time Magic Holiday Light Contest 2015

Albany Christmas pix

Once again, the Albany Visitors Association is helping to make the holiday season bright by sponsoring the 28th Annual Night Time Magic Holiday Light Program. Residents are encouraged to enter a contest (or submit your friends and neighbors) for best use of lights in decorating the exterior of their homes.

Three winners will be selected to win great prizes and one will be awarded the “Best Neighborly Effort.” Winners will be entitled to bragging rights for the entire year, and one of three fabulous prizes as determined by the prize committee. Be a part of Historic Albany’s magic!

The contest theme is “Holiday Night Time Magic.”
Participants are encouraged to share the source for their inspiration such as:

  • A family tradition…
  •  A favorite holiday book, movie or special…
  • Music, dance or art as inspiration…
  • A special collection…
  • Just Lights, Lights and more Lights…
  • Or another favorite idea or inspiration.

Contest Rules:

  1.  Entries must be within the city limits of Albany.
  2. Homeowners are encouraged to use lights to illuminate their decorations.
  3. Lights need to be on from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. December 1 – January 1st
  4. Entries for “Best Neighborly Effort” must have three or more partners in a concentrated area.
  5. Entry/Nomination Deadline: 5:00 pm on December 7, 2015.
  6. Decorations can be any style and lights can be white, clear or colored.

How to enter: Entry forms can be picked up and turned in at the Albany Visitors Association: 110 3rd Ave SE, Albany, OR 97321. You can also click here to request an entry form by e-mail.

Deadlines: Entry/nomination deadline is 5 p.m. Dec. 7, 2015. Winners will be announced by December 15th and presentations made soon after.

Touring Albany’s lights: People wishing to drive or walk through the town to look at the participating locations can pick up a list of participants and a map at the Albany Visitors Association beginning December 15. Lights will be on through January 1, 2015.

A special thanks to Burcham’s Metals for helping to make the season bright. Thank you to all the homeowners who participate in this program, without your efforts this wonderful community tradition would not be possible.

Photo: by Dan Bateman