Summer Fun Days are here again at Alpenrose
A much-loved weekly summer tradition returned last week with the opening of Summer Fun Days at Alpenrose Dairyville, a weekly series of activites at a historic artifacts at historic daily just east of Beaverton.
And, yes, ice cream is available from 1 to 4 p.m. every Sunday through Aug. 27, sold by local model train clubs whose operating exhibits are part of the fun.
"There are not many opportunities for families to get together to do things that are safe and fun and free," said Tracey Cadoneu McKinnon, a third-generation member of the family that started and owns the dairy.
The communications and events director for the dairy, McKinnon said of her role in its operation, "My job is to spend the money they make."
Alpenrose is the oldest family-owned dairy in Oregon. It was named after a flower in Switzerland, where McKinnon's family lived before moving to Oregon more than 100 years ago.
Located off the Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway at 6149 S.W. Shattuck Road, the dairy has long offered many facilities and activities more closely associated with public parks, including the most steeply banked bicycle Velodrome track in the region, a quarter-mile oval track for midget race cars, and baseball fields where Little League World Series games have been played for the past 23 years.
McKinnon's grandfather, Carl Cadonau Sr., started Dairyville in the 1950s to provide wholesome recreation for families after church. The buildings, which increased in number over the years, look like a cowboy movie set. Original activities included pony rides, kite-racing and frog-jumping, pie-eating and cow-milking contests. Visitors also enjoyed the challenge of climbing a pole covered with bacon fat, where those who made it to the top could earn a silver dollar.
"He had a vision, but I'm not sure anyone else knew what it was at the time," Tracey Cadoneu McKinnon said. "He and his wife had a desire to give back to the community, which was rooted in their faith in God."
Although times have changed, today's activities are still intended to be family-friendly.
The buildings that make up Dairyville look a little ramshackle. McKinnon admits they weren't built to last and require a lot of maintenance. But some are fully functional, such as the 300-seat Opera House that hosts year-round entertainers and community theater groups. It also holds a Skinner pipe organ that was installed originally in the Civic Auditorium in 1916. The organ is so large it occupies three full rooms behind the stage. And the Multnomah County Sheriff's building is a functional office where deputies actually stop by and write reports.
In addition to two buildings that house model-train clubs, others that will be open on Sundays include an ice cream parlour, a confectionary, a bank, a piano and organ room, and a replica one-room school house featuring an authentic chalk board, teacher's desk and rows of one-piece student seats.
There are many other buildings, too, including some that open each year for Christmas at Dairyville. They include a Wagon Museum that features genuine horse-drawn wagons from the past, a Christmas sleigh, and the last of the dairy's iconic delivery trucks that once served customers. And Storybook Lane, located in a large hall, holds an even smaller replica city based on such classic fairy tales as The Three Pigs.
McKinnon said some older visitors remember seeing some of the exhibits in other places when they were children. The wagons and sleigh were used in many parades in the region in the past. And some of the houses at Storybook Lane used to be on display at the Lloyd Center every year.
Alpenrose Dairy's roots run deep in the community. Back when most of Southwest Portland and Washington County were farm land, Florian Cadonau began to deliver milk to downtown Portland in 1891 with his young son, Henry, who opened the dairy in 1916 with his wife Rosina.
Originally located at Southwest 45th Avenue and Vermont Street, it moved to its current location after a catastophic fire. Henry's son, Carl Sr., joined the business after returning from World War II in 1946, and his son, Carl Cadonau Jr., later joined him. The senior Cadonau ran the dairy until his death in 2004. The dairy is currently managed by Cadonau Jr. and Rod Birkland, both great-grandsons of Florian Cadonau.
The dairy did not set out to become a community center.
According to Carl Jr., when he and Rod were growing up, they and their brothers would play ball near their grandmother's rose garden. After trampling some of the plants, she told Henry to build the kids their own ball field. A local Little League saw it and soon began playing games there. Dugouts, lights and a scoreboard were added over the next few years. After a couple more fields popped up, the dairy gained a reputation for having excellent facilities, eventually hosting the Little League Softball World Series games that broadcast every year on ESPN.
More sports facilities followed, including the quarter-mile midget track in the 1950s, a dirt-surfaced bicycle track in 1962 and the velodrome in 1967. The facility began hosting national competitions just two years later.
At one point, the dairy also had between 80 and 100 Shetland ponies that would be taken to grocery stores for pony rings and wagon rides. McKinnon said rides also were offered at the dairy in the first building of what became Dairyville.
Today, the dairy is a different business than it once was. In the past, as many as 250 cows were on the property. Early deliveries were made around the city by horse and wagon. Now, Alpenrose gets its milk from a co-op that includes approximately 100 farms in the state. Processing is done at a modern plant at the dairy, from which the products are then distributed.
But, despite the changes, Alpenrose still gives back to the community by opening its doors to visitors and staging such signature events as one of the largest Easter egg hunts in the country.