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Hornings Hideout heats up summer

From disc golf to fishing, hip-hop to country, North Plains venue is a growing draw
by: Phil Snapp Horning’s Hideout in North Plains is a colorful place after dark, when the stage lights up and the music starts.

Two weeks ago, Horning's Hideout transformed from a fishing hole in the rural periphery of Portland into a sweaty Mecca for thousands of bluegrass fans.

Food, fiddles and souvenirs were on the grounds of Bob Horning's family home, where two to three times a year the private park becomes a weekend music venue.

But the concert biz isn't Horning's only pursuit. When his campground isn't rocking out, it's home to weddings, disc golf and fishing enthusiasts. It's also Horning's home.

'I wake up and I'm at work; I go to bed and I'm at work," Horning said.

And for the last decade, the Strings Summit has made Horning's its home. The four-day bluegrass festival featured Beaverton's Todd Snider, Yonder Mountain String Band and the Travelin' McCourys and sold around 5,000 tickets to fans.

Snider was a hit not only for his music, but also for his satirical tales about his personal teenage transformation, which correspondingly served as inspirations for the next song.

Attendees could purchase two-day or full-weekend passes, and even camp out on the grounds. With the crowds putting the venue at capacity, the scene two weeks ago stirred as folks danced, sang along, hoola-hooped and cheered. The dust hung thick in the air as children and adults alike wafted about, soaking up the conviviality of the performers and the excitement of the scene.

Living and breathing his work seems to be worth it, though, for Horning. 'We bring a lot of good memories to peoples' lives,' he said.

Horning said a grandfather fishing on the property with his grandson summed it up best after spotting Horning at the lake: 'You have the best job in the world,' the man said as his grandson screamed with delight after a lucky catch. 'You make memories.'

The family-run, private park offers a wide range of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and picnicking. Peacocks wandering the property have become the park's trademark - easy to pick out of the brush with their animated cries and loud colors.

Three years ago, Horning decided to take a swing at disc golf, setting up a 54-hole course. It's been a huge hit.

And the camping facilities and secluded setting attract 40 to 50 weddings each summer.

If you hit up the lake for a chance at a rainbow trout, you're likely to meet Horning's mother, Jane. She runs the fishing operation from her home, situated on the lake.

Visitors can bring their catch up to the house to be weighed, where they're charged five dollars per pound.

'I love the people,' said Jane Horning. 'They're my family.'

Bob Horning describes their family business as 'a labor of love.'

At first, his father used the land to raise cattle, but always talked about turning his land into a private park for others to enjoy.

Horning's father, a Korean War veteran, passed away in 1985 from leukemia. After serving in the United States Air Force, Bob returned to North Plains to make his father's dream a reality.

He purchased more acreage neighboring his parents' property and began the process of creating the park.

Soon, he not only expanded the physical boundaries of Horning's Hideout, but the attractions as well.

'This place has morphed into what people have wanted,' said Horning. 'Everything we do here is because people have shown a need for it.'

They're always looking for new things, but will continue to offer 'more of the same,' he added.

Nearly a month from now, the place will morph into a three-mile obstacle course pockmarked with mud pits and fire obstacles, where 400 people will compete in the Warrior Dash. Horning said the team-building event will be held Sept. 10 and 11, its second time at the park.

As for the Strings Summit, Horning said it was a success, concluding with a barbecue for performers, event promoters, and crew members. Bob Horning was among them.

For many people, he said, the festival isn't just a concert, but also a family reunion. Many regulars come every year and reconnect.

Horning said he knows couples who met at the festival and now come back every year: married, with children.