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Lebanon Strawberry Festival Designated an Oregon Heritage Tradition

Feb. 21, 2018

The Lebanon Strawberry Festival, a volunteer-powered community-wide event, marks its upcoming 109th year with an Oregon Heritage Tradition designation by the Oregon Heritage Commission.

Other Oregon Heritage Traditions include the Oregon State Fair, Medford's Pear Blossom Festival, the Pendleton Round-Up, and the Woodburn Fiesta Mexicana.

"The designation recognizes those traditions that have helped define the state," said Todd Kepple, the commission's chair. "This event truly celebrates local heritage in Oregon."

The Lebanon Strawberry Festival started in 1909 as a way to showcase Lebanon and promote the berry industry. Today, the county-wide celebration has grown from a parade and shows on the dirt streets of downtown Lebanon to a 4-day festival at Cheadle Lake Park that includes multiple parades, a royalty court, a carnival, a race, and the world's largest strawberry shortcake.

Jami Cate, Chair of the Strawberry Festival Board, acknowledges how the tradition has grown along with the town. "The City of Lebanon is growing and changing, and it's fun to see the contrast between the traditional ways of life for the area--the tractors and log trucks driving through the parade, the generations-old insurance companies and banks still sponsoring the Festival--and the new aspects of Lebanon--the medical college volunteering at the 5k Race, the new breweries and restaurants sponsoring our events, the new city park being named "Strawberry Plaza."

The Lebanon Strawberry Festival wouldn't be possible without countless hours of volunteer work. A 30 member board plans and runs the festival each year along with over 100 additional volunteers. Over 10,000 participants attend from across the county and the state.

"We're really pleased to learn that the Strawberry Festival has earned this honor," Jami said. "We invite all Oregonians to share our tradition and a piece of shortcake by attending the festival." The festival will be held May 31- June 3, 2018.

An Oregon Heritage Tradition must have been in continuous operation for more than 50 years, demonstrate a public profile and reputation that distinguishes it from more routine events, and add to the livability and identity of the state. A list of Tradition designations is available online

The Oregon Heritage Commission coordinates efforts to solve statewide heritage issues through grants, education, and advocacy, and also promotes heritage tourism efforts.