12th annual Lavender Festival set for this weekend at Chehalem Cultural Center

STOCK PHOTO - Lavender has uses ranging from beauty products and teas, to stress reliever and edible syrups.

A celebration of a strong-scented plant that originates near the Mediterranean Sea is set for next week when the 12th annual Lavender Festival returns to the Chehalem Cultural Center.

Known for not only reducing stress and anxiety, but also for being a tolerant plant that mixes well with grapes and the climate of Yamhill County, the lavender will be the star of the show from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The event, which will raise money for a number of Yamhill County community groups, features art, food, music and crafts. Lavender products from more than 40 venders will be on hand as attendees may purchase fresh cut lavender, lavender beer, lavender plants and other interesting lavender products as well.

The main event is a juried plein air art show, with more than 125 artists expected this year.

"We threatened to cut it off for several years and this year we cut it off to 125 artists, because that is all that we can fit into the ballroom!" lavender farmer Marilyn Kosel said. "We have all different skill levels because we want to be inclusive. There are different award levels, a professional and an open section, the amateur and occasional painters -- so everybody has an opportunity to enter something into the show."

The show's entrees will be scrutinized by somebody with more than a little background in the arts.

"I am excited to have the nationally acclaimed artist Richard McKinley for our judge this year," Kosel said. "It is a score to get him and we've been trying for about three years."

As part of the event, festival-goers can tour four lavender farms: Mountainside Lavender on 17805 S.W. Hillsboro Highway, Red Ridge Farms on 5510 N.E. Breyman Orchards Road in Dayton, Chehalem Flats on 17733 N.E. North Valley Road and Wayward Winds Lavender on 17005 NE Courtney Road on Chehalem Mountain.

Other features of the event include an opportunity for children to create lavender art, an essential oil showcase and music from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday by Eric Ching, from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday by the Jake Blair Band, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday by Mary Kadderly and Dan Gildea and from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday by the Scratchdog String Band.

New vendors this year include Newberg artist Gail Watson, who creates hand-bound leather journals, Dundee artist Dennis Fieger's handcrafted furnishings and décor, Kathy Pienovi and her handmade clothing and bags made from vintage fabrics, and Amy Morris' handcrafted lavender personal care and foods.

"You can try lavender chocolate, lavender honey, lavender jams, syrups, teas and more," Kosel said.

The festival began in 2006 when Kosel and other lavender farmers got together in her shop in Yamhill. The second year the festival expanded out onto the street, then grew to use both sides of the street. By the fifth year, Kosel said, the festival had moved to a nearby park.

"We moved to Newberg in 2015," she said. "It is hard to count exactly how many people come because it is free admission, but we've had around 3,000 visitors in the last (few) years. After we moved, the amount of visitors has grown."

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