Forest Grove Chamber eyes annual 'Farm to Table' dinner celebration
The Forest Grove/Cornelius Chamber of Commerce is looking back, for ideas going forward.
Chamber executive director Juanita Lint wants to be bring back what used to be called "Main Course," and rebrand it as "Farm to Table" as further means of celebrating Forest Grove, while using local farms and businesses to do so.
"I want this to be a community and tourism event," Lint said. "I want to make it a Forest Grove showcase, and this year, a kind of kickoff for the new tourism brand."
Main Course was an annual event that, according to Lint, ran from 2003 to 2012, with the exception of 2009. The event was held on Main Street between Pacific Avenue and 21st Street, offering a fine dining experience that featured food and wine from Forest Grove and surrounding areas.
Lint wants to bring that back.
"I thought it was a great idea," she said, "But I'd like it to be more organic, using our farmers market vendors and suppliers' raw food, then our restaurants to actually be the chefs of the food."
The former event was as much about the experience as it was the food and drink, offering comforting lighting, subtle flower and plant decoration, and tables draped with white tablecloths and utensils.
"It's just a really nice evening event," Lint said.
At present, the Chamber of Commerce has Farm to Table tentatively scheduled for July 24, but Lint is working with Forest Grove officials and hopes that they will ultimately take the reins of what she hopes will again become an annual tradition.
Adelante Mujeres is also working closely with the Chamber as a liaison between the event coordinators and the local produce farmers.
Lint has also spoken with multiple local restaurants about food but has yet to finalize anything specific.
As expected, local wineries will play a major role in the festivities, allowing guests to enjoy the products of the local vineyards, and those same vineyards an opportunity to touch potential new customers.
The July 24 date is strategically placed the weekend typically following Forest Grove's annual Concours d'Elegance, which is the city's car show featuring more than 300 classic cars, live music, food and beverages, all on the tree-shaded campus of Pacific University. This year's Concours d'Elegance has been postponed until 2022 due to the pandemic, but Lint hopes that in coming years, the car show coupled with the Farm to Table dinner will mark a week of celebration for the city, and next year add to the city's sesquicentennial, celebrating Forest Grove's 150-year existence.
Lint also hopes to add elements to the dinner each year, including beer and wine competitions, and maybe a celebrity chef experience.
"I definitely see this as something that can grow and get better over time."
All proceeds from the dinner will go to the nonprofit ¡Salud!, which was created by a group of Oregon winery owners and Tuality Healthcare physicians to address the hurdles faced by vineyard workers who cannot get their basic healthcare needs.
"Because this is an event that will prominently feature wine," Lint said, "providing healthcare for vineyard workers made sense."
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