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Celebrate dads and local history at Philip Foster Farm

Pioneer demos, music and barbecue set for Father's Day

This Sunday, June 19, celebrate Father's Day and Oregon's pioneer history with fun-filled day of pioneer activities, live music, a barbecue, and pioneer crafts at Philip Foster Farm.

The holiday is the farm's season opener and Site Manager Elaine Butler says the day is a preview for all the pioneer presentations and activities Philip Foster Farms will have throughout the summer. On Sunday, there will be around 20 volunteers on hand to facilitate demonstrations in a variety of areas including Dutch oven cooking, Victorian era fashions, blacksmithing, totem carving, history tours of the 1883 house, corn grinding, hay bale rides, doing laundry with a scrub board and wringer, building with giant Lincoln logs, and more.

'For kids, our focus tends to be on the cool things to do here at the farm,' Butler says. 'They can do laundry, grind corn, watch a working blacksmith and talk to him about his work. There are a whole bunch of hands-on activities available for them. There's no sense in them being bored when grown-ups start talking about the farm's history.'

Philip Foster was one of Oregon's earliest settlers, arriving with his family by ship via Cape Horn and Hawaii in 1843. He played an important part in Oregon's early history, serving as the first treasurer of the provisional government in 1844 and 1845. Foster was also an entrepreneur, partnering with Sam Barlow in constructing the Barlow Road in 1846, operating a store in Oregon City, and founding a flourmill and cattle company with Dr. John McLoughlin, known as the 'Father of Oregon.'

Foster bought a 640-acre land claim in Eagle Creek in 1847, which he developed for the arrival of emigrants traveling the Barlow Road, the 'last leg' overland segment of the Oregon Trail. He cleared land, planted crops and orchards, and built a house and a store, as well as constructing a lumber mill and gristmill. The Foster place became a welcome sight for pioneers struggling over the shoulder of Mt. Hood after their 2,000-mile journey from Missouri. With the store, cabins to rent and meals offered to the emigrants, Foster's place was indeed the first destination resort in the Oregon Territory.

'For adults, a lot of the focus at the farm is understanding its history,' she says. 'We will have tour guides in the house explaining how the Foster family came and what they were doing here. Of course, the Fosters were instrumental in settling a lot of people in Oregon. The history is all here. We have lots of signage and period buildings. It's a really great opportunity to get a feel for what these people were doing.'

The Farm has been running the Father's Day summer season opener for about six years now and over the course of a year is operated by over 300 local volunteers. It is a private nonprofit national historic site and is supported entirely by visitors. Its board of directors includes two Foster descendants. The Farm's Josiah Burnett House, home of Foster's daughter Lucy, (owned by the historical society, but currently rented out to pay the mortgage) was recently named one of the 10 most endangered buildings in Oregon by the Historic Preservation League of Oregon.

'This is our local history,' Butler says. 'If we don't maintain it and take interest in it and support it, we could lose it. It's dependant on people coming and taking advantage of it and supporting it.'

The Father's Day event is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 per person, $20 per family. For more information, visit philipfosterfarm.com.