Summer Road Trip – Thompson’s Mills

It is without doubt, the absolute perfect time for a road trip in Linn County. Fields glow golden, swallows dive and swoop, white-tailed deer walk their fawns two by two, and puffy mashed-potato clouds float lazily in the bluest skies. 

Fortunately, we can recommend several summer road trips that lead you from downtown Albany and transport you to more tranquil environs. Let’s start with a visit to one of Linn County’s greatest historic treasures.

The last working water-powered flour mill in Oregon

photo of State National Heritage Site, Thompson's Mills, with silos being paintedTravel to the late Victorian period, when draft horses pulled wagons filled with local wheat to the closest mill. Your trip to a working historic mill is less than a half-hour drive (by car, not horse) from Albany.

Thompson’s Mills State Heritage Site is run by the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD). The land and surrounding mill buildings are all part of living history. Interactive exhibits include feeding the resident flock of chickens and a free interpretive tour of the mill where a water-powered turbine still runs and turns the flour-grinding mechanisms—a demonstration the entire family will enjoy.

When the mill was in Boston

Thompson’s Mills, built in 1858, was originally called Boston Mills, and co-existed with a town of the same name, platted alongside the Calapooia River. Although fire destroyed the mill in 1862, it reopened in 1864 following a complete rebuild. Boston’s population declined after the Oregon and California Railroad (O&C) built its track west of the mill property and Shedd became the primary residence for the area’s inhabitants.

Since O&C’s track crossed through the heart of the Willamette Valley, it was used to transport agricultural goods to Portland and points beyond. Shedd’s station expanded new markets for Thompson’s Mills. Oregon flour was appreciated around the world—and exported to China in the early 20th century and to Belgium during WW1. 

As the US adapted to changing technologies and trade, so did Thompson’s Mills. Americans looked to a brighter future following WW2—and their desire for store-bought bread and gardens with green lawns affected local wheat production. Less wheat meant farmers replaced grain with grass seed for the Baby Boom generation. 

When local flour production decreased, the mill adapted as well, and began producing animal feed. By the 1980s the mill realized the electrical energy it produced could be sold to a local utility, and help sustain mill operations.

In 2004 OPRD bought the mill, its water rights and associated buildings and acreage. In 2007 the department opened the 20 acre site to the public, free of charge. 

Take the tour – it’s for the young and old and in-between

Photo showing large gears and mechanisms that drive the water-powered Thompson's MillsCurrently, OPRD continues its preservation efforts with restoring and refurbishing parts of the mill and grounds. Their work includes planting orchards for cider production, restoring the mill-keeper’s home and carriage house, and repainting the silo’s iconic logos—a giant peach and apple that can be seen for miles.

The mill is open seven days per week (excluding certain holidays) and holds special seasonal events to raise funds for preservation efforts. In the fall, an old-fashioned cider pressing brings families from across Oregon over a span of several weekends.

Make sure to ask the rangers for a tour of the mill while you’re there. That’s the special treat about making this road trip one of the great ones. The tour is free and you’ll get to see the inner working mechanisms—the enormous gears turn to raise a series of dam-gates in the millrace and the conveyor belts stir overhead.

Kids especially will enjoy a demo of the “man-lift,” a single-person, self-propelled elevator that zooms upwards to the top of the mill building. While the public can’t ride the man-lift, park rangers show how Victorian workers rode the lift to clear grain chutes descending to the grinding areas.

Once you’ve climbed the steep stairs from the mill’s bottom floors, you can wander through a number of interpretive exhibits that include original furnishings, grinding stones, gears, flour and feed sacks, and other mill memorabilia. 

Be sure and stop at the gift shop run by the ‘Friends of Thompson’s Mills,’ a non-profit organization that helps fund the mill’s heritage site status. Souvenir T-shirts, feed shopping bags and other gifts can be had for donations that will help keep the mill open to all for many years to come.

What to know if you go

Photo showing wheelchair accessibility at Thompson's MillsAddress: Thompson’s Mills is located in Shedd, Oregon. The easiest (and most delightful) route is to take Hwy. 99E from Albany and travel straight through to Boston Mill Drive. Signs along the highway will direct you to the mill. The address is 32655 Boston Mill Drive.

Hours: Monday though Sunday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Open year-round (except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Years Day).

Tours: If your group is under 10 people, no reservation is needed for a guided tour of the site and buildings. Just show up and a ranger or volunteer will escort you around with entertaining and historical facts. If your group has 10 participants or more, telephone the mill to ensure staff is available to meet you. 541-491-3611. All guided tours are free, including larger groups.

Accessibility: Most of the grounds, and the main level of the mill building are accessible. There is a ramp to the mill’s “street” level where the interpretive exhibits are, and two on-site wheelchairs are available for use. Please note the lower levels of the mill building (where the large water-driven gears operate) are not wheelchair accessible. It is possible to access this portion of the building if you ambulate with assistive devices and feel able to climb and descend several narrow steps. There are wide walkways suitable for wheelchair use along the millrace pond and grounds, and accessible restrooms. Those with state-issued placards can park in the closest designated spots.

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Our top list of 4th of July fireworks displays

  1. Tucked into the countryside south of Albany is historic Brownsville. The tiny hamlet will host an old-fashioned Fourth of July Celebration all day, starting with a big pancake breakfast at 7:00 a.m., filling the daylight hours with kiddie activities, live music and food, and ending with a big-bang fireworks display at dusk. The event is held at Pioneer Park in Brownsville. For more information visit http://historicbrownsville.com/event/breakfast-fireworks-in-the-park-3/
  2. Join in on a big festive Fourth at the Star Spangled Celebration, held in Lebanon, Oregon, at Cheadle Lake Park. The event starts at 6:00 p.m. and ends at 10:30 p.m. following the fireworks display over the lake. There will be lots of musical entertainment, children’s activities, face painting, bounce houses, and food booths. There is a $10 admission by the carload or you can walk in for $3 per person. For more information, visit www.lebanoncommunityfoundation.com
  3. On the official holiday, Albany’s outdoor River Rhythms at Monteith Park (alongside the Willamette River) will start the season off with a splash and a bang. The venerable band The Baha Men will play their trademark sounds at 7:00 p.m. and a fireworks display will follow the concert. Bring your blankets, folding chairs and picnic food, but please leave Fido or Fluffy at home. The Children’s Art Area opens at 5:30 p.m. For the full summer schedule visit the City of Albany website.
  4. Plan ahead for Fourth of July fun: Join old and new friends in Harrisburg, where an “Old Fashioned 4th of July” means activity from morning to night! Food, a parade, games, vendors, free entertainment, and of course, fireworks. You’ll find the celebration happening in several locations throughout the city. For more information, visit the City of Harrisburg website

Have a safe and happy Fourth from all of us at Albany Visitors Association. For more great July activities, read our blog.

 

 

Summer fun for kids – 2019 Pioneer Day Camp

Become a pioneer for the day

The Monteith House is hosting  day camp for kids grades K-8, July 15 -17, 2019 – 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. 

Children will learn about pioneer life through stories and hands-on activities at this fun day camp. Kids will participate in living history and explore the responsibilities of pioneer children as they traveled the Oregon Trail and settled into Albany life. Partial costumes and snacks will be provided.

Registration details
The cost of the three day camp is $50 per child. Register by July 9, 2019,  by contacting the Albany Visitors Association at 541-928-0911. Pre-registration required. The Monteith House Museum is located at 518 2nd Ave. S.W., Albany, OR.

2019 Children’s Summer Passport Program

Event logo.

The Albany Passport Program for Children is almost here. This summer, your children can explore over 30 locations around town to learn more about the history of Albany. Grab your passport (starting on June 8th) at the Albany Fire Station No. 11 (611 Lyon St SE) and start visiting, collecting stamps, and possibly win prizes.

After the kickoff party, passports may be obtained at the Albany Visitors Association office, at 110 3rd St SE, on the corner of Lyon and 3rd. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 9 to 5, and Saturdays, 9 to 3.

*Note: this activity is aimed towards a minimum age (kindergarten) up to teens, as young toddlers may not understand or enjoy the experience.

The Albany Summer Passport is a free children’s program offered through a partnership of the City of Albany, Albany Visitors Association, Albany Downtown Association, Albany Regional Museum, and the Monteith Historical Society. This project is supported in part by a grant from the Oregon Heritage Commission, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and the Oregon Cultural Trust. For more info, contact AVA at 541.928.0911.

June is busting’ out all over – with events

Photo of two young boys dressed in aprons and strawberry themed hats at the Lebanon Strawberry Festival parade in Linn County, Oregon.

Come gather in Albany and find your perfect comfort zone—whether its sipping wine at nearby Springhill Cellars Winery or a leisurely stroll along the river— June is a transitional month where local events move into high gear as we prep for sunny summer months. Come join us in Albany and Linn And Benton Counties for the following sensational events. (We always add other featured events as we discover them, so check back soon.)

May 30 – June 2nd Wrap up National Historic Preservation Month at the 110th Lebanon Strawberry Festival. This historical Linn County event has something for everyone, from a Saturday night fireworks display and the World’s Largest Strawberry Shortcake to a parade and entertainment. Located at Cheadle Lake Park, 37919 Weirich Dr, Lebanon, OR. lebanonstrawberryfestival.com

Graphic of event information.June 1st What could be better than a new animal on the Albany Carousel? What about TWO new animals?! Come attend the big unveiling party on June 1st, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Albany Historic Carousel & Museum. Welcome “Thunder the Bison” and “Sampson the Rooster” as they join the other animals on the carousel. It’s a wild west themed party, so wear your favorite cowboy boots, hats, and chaps… but please, leave the spurs at home.

June 7th Plan on celebrating First Friday in Downtown Albany with all the usual suspects, including the Albany Regional Museum, Urban Ag Supply, The Natty Dresser, Sweet Red Bistro, Gallery Calapooia and others. Check in on June’s featured artists at the free reception at Gallery Calapooia: Marilyn Lindsley’s polymer clay jewelry and Marjorie Kinch’s watercolors will be on display. Stop in to meet the artists and enjoy light refreshments and live music. The Albany Historic Carousel & Museum will be open for special family activities, from 5:30 to 8:00; a $5 admission gets you unlimited rides. Wander through downtown historic Albany and pop in to shops and restaurants featuring First Friday extended hours and specials.

June 8th The “Albany Passport Program for Kids” is coming! This summer, your children can explore over 30 locations around town to learn more about the history of Albany. Grab your passport starting on June 8th at Albany Fire Station No. 11 (611 Lyon St SE) and start visiting, collecting stamps, and possibly win prizes. The Albany Summer Passport is a free children’s program offered through a partnership of the City of Albany, Albany Visitors Association, Albany Downtown Association, Albany Regional Museum, and the Monteith Historical Society. This project is supported in part by a grant from the Oregon Heritage Commission, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and the Oregon Cultural Trust. For more info, contact AVA at 541.928.0911.

Graphic of map showing display areas at Albany, Oregon Talking Water Gardens June 12th Nothing better than the free lunchtime series at the Albany Regional Museum “History Bites.” Bring your lunch or nosh on light refreshments at the latest in the series, a history of Talking Water Gardens. The demonstration habitat shows how recycled wastewater can be used to create wildlife and botanical preserves—where insects, birds, wetland flora and fauna, are on view seasonally to hikers, photographers, and all who love and appreciate the outdoors. The presentation starts at noon in the community room.

June 13th Another one of our Linn County “food trail” destinations is the Thursday afternoon Brownsville Farmers’ Market. Hunt for sweet strawberries, crisp mesclun salad greens, root veggies, and other late spring selections to create your own perfect “farm to fork” experience. The outdoor market on Main St opens at 3:00 p.m. and runs until 6:00 p.m. Come earlier in the day and forage in unique small shops and have lunch at one of several restaurants and bakeries, or try a little Oregon wine tasting at Harpers Wine House.

June 14th – 21st What exactly is a “flat-coated retriever?” Why not come and find out as you watch this beautiful sporting breed perform in the show ring at Linn County Expo Center. The dog’s field trials will be held in nearby Scio. The 2019 Northwest Flat-Coated Retriever National Specialty will bring canines from across the US to Albany. Get the full schedule of events at https://fcrsa.org/2019specialty/

June 14th ( and various dates throughout June ) The Albany Civic Theater presents the “Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon,” starting the second week in June. Classic fairy tales are turned on their heads as two narrators and several actors attempt to combine all 209 Grimm stories ranging from classics like Snow White, Cinderella, and Hansel and Gretel to more bizarre, obscure stories like The Devil’s Grandmother and The Girl Without Hands. A wild, free-form comedy with lots of audience participation and madcap fun. Written by Don Zolidis and directed by Conner Riley.  For information telephone 541-928-4603 or visit http://www.albanycivic.org

Photo of a 2013 Through the Garden Gate Tour in Albany OregonJune 15th An annual event, the much beloved garden tour “Through the Garden Gate” takes place the Saturday before Father’s Day Sunday. Take your garden-loving dad on this tour featuring OSU Master Gardeners. Tour the private gardens in any order, on your own schedule. Tickets are $15.00 and all funds raised support gardening education for adults and youth in Linn County. Maps and tickets are available at Albany Visitors Association office and other garden centers in the area. Telephone 541-928-0911 for ticketing information.

June 22nd The Third Annual Albany Pride Parade. Albany joins with other communities in strengthening diversity and inclusiveness with this public event. Assemble at the 11:00 a.m. at the Linn County Courthouse, 300 Fourth St. The parade route and more details will be published as we receive more information from the event organizers and sponsors.

For a complete list of Albany area events, visit our monthly events calendar.

Open Season – Albany Farmers’ Market

In 2019, the Albany Farmers’ Market enters its 42nd season. This delicious Albany tradition is Oregon’s longest continuously operating outdoor farmers’ market. Opening day’s musical forecast includes guitar licks by David Rogers.

Photo of brightly colored bell peppers spilling out of a rattan basket at the Oregon Albany Farmers' MarketSince this is the Year of the Pig in Chinese tradition, the market sought local pork producers. Three Linn County pork ranchers will now showcase their product to eager shoppers. Participating farms are Anchor Ranch, Gap Road Meat Company, and PK Pastures. Other producers sell a selection of locally-grown chicken, beef, and lamb.

Krakelen, another new vendor, will sell their made-on-the-spot wood-fired pizzas topped with many locally sourced ingredients.

Since the market requires that its products must be local and farm direct, the size of the farmers’ market expands and contracts over the outdoor market season. Some farmers grow inside large greenhouses called high tunnels that keep the soil a little drier and warmer, allowing them to bring vegetables a bit earlier in the season. Not all market vendors have access to this method,  which is one reason why you might see see what you are looking for one week, but not another.

The Albany season begins with fewer than 20 vendors, depending on weather earlier in the year. As hot weather crops develop, the vendor count builds to about 30. Albany’s market is open for a 32-week long season. Early season offerings feature spring raab and many other greens, potatoes and other storage vegetables, radishes, fresh turnips, carrots, rhubarb, preserved foods, honey, eggs, meat, poultry, and cheese plus nursery plants and cut flowers. On the other extreme, the last market in November will feature much of what will be on Thanksgiving tables the next day.

Power of Produce Kids’ Club in Albany

Graphic image showing a big illustration of a carrot and advertising the PoP Club for kidsThe Albany Farmers’ Market and its community partners are supporting a 12-week “Power of Produce Club” (PoP) June 15th through August 31st. Children aged five through 12 will receive $4 in market tokens to spend each time they attend the market during the program dates. Club members can attend activities produced with support from community partners like the Albany YMCA and Linn County Master Gardeners.

The PoP Club is funded with local small business sponsorships and larger grants, including one from the Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund, which has supported anti-hunger efforts in Linn and Benton County for many years.  The Albany Elks Lodge #359, which is seeking to renew its national grant supporting PoP in Albany, will assist with cooking and planting activities.

Albany’s club is modeled after the Oregon City Farmers Market PoP Club, and has spread to other farmers’ markets across the country. 

What to know if you go

The Albany Farmers’ Market is open on Saturdays, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m, April to November. Located in the City Hall parking lot at 4th and Ellsworth Streets, it is within walking distance of historic downtown and unique shopping and dining experiences. And while at the market, fresh baked cookies, muffins, pies, pastries, and hot or iced beverages are available for a grazing brunch.

Don’t forget to check out other great events on our website at https://albanyvisitors.com/calendar-of-events/calendar/

Join us at The Pix for the 2019 Photo Contest Awards

Photo of owners of the Albany Pix Theater standing in front of the box-office and holding balloons that say "Shop Small."

The public is invited to a big party, Saturday, April 20, 2019, for the free AVA Photo Contest Awards at The Albany Pix Theatre, 321 SW 2nd Ave in Downtown Albany.

We can say that quite possibly, “You get a prize, she gets a prize, they get a prize – but not without showing up!” Door prize drawings will be awarded to several lucky attendees. We also hear that snacks will be served – – yum.

AVA received over 200 photos that our esteemed judges selected this year’s winners from. While we can’t reveal who won just yet, come and join us for the party and see all of the entries on the big screen.

Watch this space for an updated video of the winners. In the meanwhile, head on over to our Flickr albums and catch a glimpse at what you’ll see at the party.

From history to poodles – 18 fun February Albany happenings

Friday, Feb 1st It’s First Friday in Downtown Albany and many retail shops and restaurants are open for extended hours. You’ll want to check out the artist’s reception at Gallery Calapooia for the “Big Show of Little Art,” a community wide show, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The Natty Dresser will be serving up a VIP Valentines shopping event and handcrafted chocolate from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Beforehand, check out the Albany Regional Museum’s First Friday exhibit by two local artists, Mickey Steffgen and Linda Ellsworth, in the Community Room. The museum’s normal exhibits will also be open until 8:00 p.m. And don’t forget your four-legged friends. How about a doggie Valentine’s cookie (for pups to enjoy, not cookies shaped like doggies!) from Sniffany’s Pet Boutique on First Ave. in Downtown Albany. Sniffany’s will be open until 8:00 p.m. Fulfill your inner dirt bug with a visit to Urban Ag Supply on Elllsworth, across from Little Wuestens Cafe. Find inspiration in the latest gardening tools. There will be a special “pup-up” shop, featuring new styles of hand-crafted pet accessories. Urban Ag will be open until 8:00 p.m. If you head back towards First Avenue, make sure to stop at Sweet Reds Bistro for their special late night “Sweeteasy” from 9:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. Stop by for a 1920s inspired roarin’ good time! Period costumes are encouraged.

Feb 2nd The Greater Albany Rotary Club presents their Annual Crab Fest from noon to 7:00 p.m. at Calapooia Brewing Co. Yummy crab will be on the menu (of course!) and so much more, including brews and live music. Get all the info and tickets on their website.

Feb 5th Join the Annual Sweet Home Sweetheart Run, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. This fun, timed race is full of family activities. The 10K, 5K, and 1M kids fun-run all start and end at the Weddle Covered Bridge in Sankey Park, 877 14th Ave, Sweet Home. For more information and registration visit the park website.

Feb 9th and 16th Linn-Benton Community College presents the 44th Annual Children’s Show, at 2:00 p.m. The performance takes you on an adventure under the sea, with “Josephina Jordan, Junior Underwater Explorer, and the Mystery of the Plastic Fish.” Written and directed by Dan Stone, this fun and educational play looks at oceans and marine life in an amazing story filled with special effects, puppets, and a massive submarine called “Big Tuna.” Produced in collaboration with the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Tickets are $8 general admission, $6 children under 18. More info on their website.

Feb 13th Join neighbors and friends at the Ag Appreciation Breakfast, 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Come together with the local farming community and enjoy a delicious catered breakfast out at the Linn County Fair & Expo Center. The keynote speaker is Buzz Wheeler, owner of Coastal Farm & Ranch. Pre-registration is required by Feb 6th, breakfast tickets are $13, admission to the presentation is free. For more information, visit the event website.

Feb 13th It’s time for History Bites at the Museum, from noon to 1:00 p.m. at the Albany Regional Museum (ARM). This month’s presentation will include the stories and history of Albany’s Fire Chiefs. John Bradner, the current Albany Fire Chief will be the speaker. Albany Fire Department is celebrating 150 years of service to our community. Get ready for ARM’s upcoming exhibit that opens on Feb 16th, “Where There’s Smoke” celebrating 150 years of the Albany Fire Department. Refreshments provided  at History Bites. For more info visit ARM’s website.

Feb 14th, 15th and 16th From 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., bring your significant other out to a special Sweethearts Valentines Dinner at Novak’s Hungarian Restaurant in Historic Downtown Albany. The menu includes a five course dinner for two featuring a mini magyar krumpli appetizer, soup, salad, Chicken Cordon Bleu, and a chocolate box to share. Price: $59.99; add passion fruit cocktail, $63.99. Telephone Novak’s at 541-967-9488 for information and reservations.

Feb 15th, 16th, 17th Get ready for the big, big, BIG Willamette Sportsman Show. Boats! Fishing gear! Hunting apparel! Games, raffles, rock-wall climbing, gold panning, target practice, archery, presentations, vendors galore, and a kid’s fishing pool. It’s three big days filled with outdoor recreational education and activities at the Linn County Fair & Expo Center. Free parking, $6 general admission, kids 12 and under free. For complete daily hours and more information, visit the event website.

 

Photo of birthday cake.Feb 16th Travel back to when it all started; the Oregon Statehood Celebration.The Monteith Historical Society invites you to a day of fun in Historic Downtown Albany to celebrate Oregon’s 160th birthday. Join us between 11:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., for family-friendly activities, trolley tours throughout Albany’s Historic Districts and of course, enjoy birthday cake to celebrate Oregon history.This event is free and open to the public. Click here to view the (subject to change) schedule of events PDF.

Feb 16th through March 2nd Visit Albany’s performing arts theater, (Albany Civic Theater) for this play full of comedy—“Daddy’s Girl.” A widower for 25 years is served a full plate of comic chaos when his deceased wife, a talking portrait on the wall, enlists the services of an angel to reunite Benard with their long, lost daughter, leading to two possible candidates. For performance dates, times and tickets, telephone 541-967-8140 or visit the theater’s website at CivicTicketing

Feb 21st, 22nd, 23rd, and 24th Woof woof! Don’t miss the Linn County Kennel Club Dog Show at the Linn County Fair & Expo Center. Come see all the AKC breeds—from hound to poodle—they’ll be prancing around the ring and competing in agility and obedience challenges. The show runs daily, so check the schedule out on the Linn County Kennel Club website.

Feb 23rd Looking for fun activities with the littles? The Heritage Mall Kids Club meets on Saturday the 23rd from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Become a part of the club and get access to exclusive events, gifts, and participate in awesome fun and craft activities. The club is held in the Fun Zone on the backside of the mall. For more information telephone 541-967-8238 or visit heritagemallKidsClub

Winners – 2018 holiday light contest

photo of a historic Victorian period house at night, lit with Christmas lights and lighted yard decorations for the 2018 Albany Oregon Night Time Magic Program

Albany Visitors Association is proud to announce the winners of our 2018 Annual Night Time Magic Holiday Light Program. The winning displays can be seen at the following addresses:

“Traditional & Eclectic,” 2110 Geary St SE, Albany, OR 97322 

“Christmas Joy,” 3849 Oakmont Loop NE, Albany, OR 97322 

“Animals’ Christmas Party,” 531 Fairmont Drive NE, Albany, OR 97322 

“Candy Cane Come Back,” 3522 Pacific Blvd SW, Albany, Oregon 97321 

“Holiday Greetings in Historic Albany,” 401 Main St SE, Albany, OR 97321 

“Sharing Holiday Cheer Inside and Out,” 503 West First Ave, Albany OR 97321

“Traditional Christmas,” 222 4th Ave SE

 

Winners receive an awards certificate and a $50 gift card to Albany’s first-run movie house, The Pix Theatre. Photos of the winning homes will also be on display at the Pix. Download a PDF of the locations map or stop by AVA at 110 3rd SE (on the corner of 3rd and Lyon) and ask for a printed copy.

Selected winning entries to the Night Time Magic Program are determined by a panel of judges who conduct drive-by sightings between December 10th and 15th. Homes must have been formally entered into the contest.

This is the 31st year that Albany Visitors Association has helped to make the holidays bright with this community-wide contest. If you are interested in being a part of the 2019 contest next December, contact the Albany Visitors Association, 110 3rd Ave SE, 541-928-0911 or sign up for our e-newsletter to receive future announcements. 

Thank you to all the homeowners who participate in this program, without your efforts, this wonderful community tradition would not be possible.

Don’t forget to visit some of the winners from last year (list below) to see what they might be up to this year. We heard that the Piedmont Avenue cul-de-sac isa study in motion and color!

Holiday Light Award winners 2017

2017 

  1. Piedmont Christmas Cul-de-sac, 6127 Piedmont Pl SW, Albany, OR 97321 
  2. It’s the Most Magical Time of the Year, 3849 Oakmont Loop NE, Albany, OR 97322
  3. Let There be Light, 797 Fairmont Drive NE, Albany, OR 97322
  4. Candy Cane Colored Cape Cod Colonial, 1122 11th Ave SW Albany, Oregon 97321
  5. Holiday Greetings in Downtown Albany, No Dinx Inc., 139 SE 1st Ave, Albany, OR 97321

It’s huge – Christmas Storybook Land

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

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

The 42nd Christmas Storybook Land

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last year, nearly 4,000 children took part.

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

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

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

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

She also reminded families to bring their cameras.

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

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

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

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

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

What to know if you go

CHRISTMAS STORYBOOK LAND

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

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

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

More information: www.christmasstorybookland.org.