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West Multnomah Soil Water and Conservation District celebrates 75th anniversary

PMG PHOTO: NICOLE THILL-PACHECO - Howell Territorial Park will be the site of the Sauvie Island Jubilee on Saturday, Sept. 28. The event will feature a number of hands-on activities, information booths, historical presentations and more, including tours of the historic Howell Bybee house. The West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District will be hosting a community event Saturday, Sept. 28, to celebrate the organization's' 75th anniversary.

The Sauvie Island Jubilee, which will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Howell Territorial Park, will offer a number of activities, cultural information, island history, entertainment and more.

Members of the Oregon Historical Society will be on site with information about the historic Howell Bybee house and will be giving tours of the building.

"It hasn't been open to the public as a historical site for 25 or 30 years, I think, but it's going to be open for tours, so we're really excited about that," said Renee Magyar said, the communications and public relations manager with West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District.

Other events include heirloom apple tastings, storytelling, historical presentations, STEM activities and more.

Special guests for the event include Rick Huddle, a storyteller, musician and theater artist who will host a special storytelling presentation; John Kallas, an ethnobotanist with Wild Food Adventures who will discuss wild foods and herbs; and members of the Portland State University Archaeology Department, Oregon Archaeology Society, and members of the Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde, all of whom will be available to help visitors identify artifacts they may have found on the island.

Additionally, live music is planned for the afternoon. Organizers expect about 35 booths to be set up during the event, with a variety of organizations and community partners represented.

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE OREGON HISTORICAL SOCIETY - This photo from 1971 shows a past Wintering In event on the island. The events were similar to harvest festivals, and the Sauvie Island Jubilee this year is being held in the same spririt of the past events."I'm really excited about bringing community members together in way that hasn't happened on the island, as far as I know in this regard, for a long time," Magyar said. "This feels more like a community fair to me and I'm really excited about that."

Eric Jones, an anthropologist, researcher and professor who has been co-organizing the jubilee, will also be providing information about a pilot program he is spearheading to develop a cultural mapping tool community members can use to digitally archive the history of a specific area. Jones has most recently been studying Sauvie Island for his project.

"I'm excited about this event being an example of where a lot of different people from different walks of life can come together and enjoy time together," Jones said.

One feature at the jubilee that Magyar is particularly excited about is a custom built harmonograph. A harmonograph is like a giant Spirograph which works by using a series of swinging pendulums to create a unique design, she explained.

The idea for the jubilee was inspired by Wintering In events, a festivity formerly held on the island. Jones and Magyar explained that past events were similar to harvest festivals, which offered a variety of hands-on, "back-to-the-earth" activities.

Event organizers wanted to highlight more than just the special district's conservation efforts and have planned a number of culturally relevant activities and other events to attract visitors with a variety of interests.

"We wanted to create a community event that is more than just about a celebration of us and our work, but a celebration of bringing the community together," Magyar said.

The West Multnomah Soil and Conservation District developed its roots in a nationwide effort in the 1930s to combat the loss of soils in the Midwest during the Dust Bowl, Magyar explained. Over time, states across the nation developed their own soil and water conservation groups. The West Multnomah group is one of more than 40 conservation groups in the state of Oregon.

While the conservation district on the island began as the Sauvie Island Conservation District, it eventually grew to be part of the larger Multnomah County district, and ultimately split to include western portions of the county

and Sauvie Island. The district often partners with other

agencies and landowners to tackle conservation projects

in the region, Magyar explained.

"I think it's going to be really fun, lighthearted, accessible for everyone, casual entertainment, a really wonderful community day in the park," Magyar said of the jubilee.

If you go

  • What: Sauvie Island Jubilee
  • Where: Howell Territorial Park
  • When: Saturday, Sept. 28; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • COST: While the event is free, guests can RSVP in advance and be entered into a raffle to win a $300 Yeti cooler. Parking on site will be available, but alternative parking will be located near the Sauvie Island Bridge with free shuttle services.
  • LEARN MORE: Visit www sauvieislandjubilee.com

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