History of Oregon by Oregon Historical Society
homeSection 6Subtopic: Cultural Enterp...
Subtopic : Education, Arts, and Letters: Cultural Enterprises

Themes: Social Relations, Arts

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Log Rolling Competition
Albany Timber Carnival
Oregon State Highway Collection
OrHi 100633

In addition to its rich literary heritage, Oregon has a long history of other cultural enterprises. German, Scandinavian, and numerous other ethnic organizations proliferated in the late 1800s. Immigrant groups formed social and ethnic clubs to provide meeting places for Old World celebrations, dances, and other social activities.

Some cultural festivals have evolved through time to become the state’s more popular community celebrations. Since 1961, for example, Junction City’s annual four-day Scandinavian Festival has been devoted to celebrating the foodways, fashions, folk music, and dancing associated with Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland. Each August, Junction City’s downtown is transformed with booths, entertainment, glass-blowing demonstrations, and other cultural events.

The small town of Mt. Angel in the Willamette Valley has celebrated an annual harvest festival since 1966. With German sausage, music, craft booths, and dancing in a huge bier garden, the Oktoberfest draws more than 300,000 people to the mid-September event. Astoria hosts a Finnish gala each year, and Portland puts on a Nordic festival.

Since the 1940s, the Albany World Championship Timber Carnival has attracted competitors from all over the world to participate in logging skills contests. For four days over the Fourth of July weekend, men and women have competed in climbing, chopping, bucking, and burling contests. Because of smaller crowds and the state’s declining timber economy, the city of Albany discontinued the once-popular carnival in 2002.

Oregon’s cultural establishments include long-standing institutions such as the Oregon Historical Society (established in 1898), the Portland Art Museum (1892), the Columbia River Maritime Museum (1962), the High Desert Museum in Bend (1982), and the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center in The Dalles (1997). New tribal cultural centers include The Museum at Warm Springs (1993) and the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute in Pendleton (1998). The Museum at Warm Springs, designed as a living tribute to the people of the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation, houses tribal artifacts, historic photos, an impressive collection of Indian material culture, and valuable documents. The Tamástslikt Cultural Institute of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation, located outside Pendleton, was conceived with the purpose of documenting and protecting the unique traditions of the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla peoples. Tamástslikt’s valuable holdings include tribal archival materials and a growing collection of historical photographs. The private, non-profit High Desert Museum also has significant Native cultural collections and exhibits as well as exhibits that focus on the natural and cultural heritage of the Northwest’s arid interior.

© William G. Robbins, 2002

Themes: Social Relations,Arts

Regions: Oregon

Date: 1900-2003

Author: William G. Robbins

Oregon has enjoyed a rich history of community celebrations and long-standing cultural institutions.

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