Odyssey of a delicious downhome donut

Lowhill Bakery draws long, long lines at the LO Farmers' Market

If the whole world was like a donut from Lowhill Village Bakery it would be a much better place.

The Loberg family - papa Chris, mom Connie, daughters Ashley and Dominique - offers old-fashioned donuts that have but one weakness: The too-long lines they attract at the Lake Oswego Farmers' Market, the one and only place they can be purchased.

Hot, fresh, aromatic, delicious, and in 12 different varieties. Plus Connie says, 'They're good for your soul.' What's not to like?

'People are always telling us our donuts remind them of the donuts their grandmothers used to make,' Connie said.

'We get a lot of fans from the Midwest,' Chris said. 'They say our donuts are like the ones they used to eat back home.'

But the biggest donut eaters are fans of the Oregon State Beavers and the Oregon Ducks, and the Lobergs have donuts custom made for each school. However, this presents a unique problem.

'Sometimes the Duck fans prefer the Beaver donuts and vice versa,' Connie said. 'They don't want to say the name of the donut. They just point to it on the menu.'

The procedure for Lowhill Village Bakery goes like this: The gong sounds to start the Farmers' Market, donut desirers quickly line up at the Lobergs' booth, Connie's wonderful smile and warm conversation prepare people for the delightful treat ahead. Meanwhile, the indefatigable Chris and the girls roll out the donuts, sugar and frost them, and before you know it they are melting in your mouth.

'The key to our success is we have a consistent product year in and year out, and we have Miss Charisma (Connie) up front,' Chris said. 'These donuts taste better than anything I've ever tasted.'

Lowhill donuts attract all kinds of people (including celebrities like Bo Derek, Robert Paxson and Mr. Bean) and at least one dog.

'Hey, it's the Donut Dog!' is how Connie greets Zoe, who is carried up to the booth by her owner.

'She's been coming for years,' Connie added.

This seems like the perfect donut love story. But, surprisingly, it almost never started. After taking the plunge as donut entrepreneurs in 2003, Chris and Connie found they could not find any farmers' markets that would accept them as vendors, not even in their hometown of Beaverton.

'We were told this was the Bagel Generation,' Chris said.

'Nobody wanted us,' Connie said. 'Only Kathy was enthusiastic.'

Kathy Kern Schilling, special events coordinator for the city of Lake Oswego, should be properly blessed by everyone for bringing Lowhill Bakery to the LOFM.

Schilling, who is Connie's match in the warmth and smile departments, said, 'I knew Connie and Chris were going to be offering something that was really fun and that no other market had. Little did I know they would be so appealing all day long.

'It never occurred to me that shoppers would order a dozen or more and take them home!'

The rest is donut history.

Oddly enough, the Lobergs did not have a strong family donut history before starting Lowhill Bakery, although Connie did work in a French bakery while she was in college. The couple decided to sell donuts in the summer as a way to educate their two daughters in the business world.

Working at the bakery in the Lake Oswego Farmers' Market was the first job for Ashley and Dominique, and it eventually became the first job for many of their cousins and friends.

'I interviewed them,' Dominique said.

'Oh yeah, we've learned so much,' said Ashley. 'We've learned about taxes and people skills and a lot more.'

But the girls are now in college and getting ready for their post-donut careers. This makes Lowhill fans anxious, because Chris and Connie are pondering putting away their two old-fashioned donut makers and taking life a little easier in the summers.

'Mayor Hoffman has asked us to open up a donut shop here,' Chris said.

How can patrons say goodbye to Lowhill Village Bakery? It has made their donut dreams come true.

Other sweet treats at the Farmers' Market

The Lake Oswego Farmers' Market does a remarkable job of satisfying the sweet teeth of some 8,000 patrons every Saturday. And here are the vendors who make it happen:

* Upper Crust Bread Company. Alice Seeger and her incredible crew deliver sweet stuff like cinnamon rolls, muffins and cookies that are as large as they are delicious. Check out Alice's mom's newest hat that looks like a wedding cake.

* Blue Ribbon Bakery. This bakery is an offshoot of the popular Lili's Patisserie in Sherwood. It offers cakes, pies, cinnamon rolls, cookies, bars, homemade jams and jellies, and honey. All of them luscious.

* Country Grains Bakery and Deli. While best known for its sandwiches and paninis, this Wilsonville restaurant also offers wonderful waffles.

* Delightful Baked Goods. Provides a sweet taste of Russia at its sweetest with its pastries and bagels.

* Indulge. Offers the finest quality of caramels made of the highest quality ingredients. The purest caramel flavor possible. Swooningly smooth.

* Klassic Kettlecorn. This delicious concoction comes right from Mike in Lake Oswego.

* Malou's Brittle. Homemade peanut brittle and fudge rate high on the yummy meter.

* Morsels. These delicious scones have returned to the LOFM by popular demand.

* Roll Chocolates. For chocolate lovers, which includes almost everybody.

* Two Brothers Foods. Brotherly love is reflected in the extraordinary chocolate sauce.

* Zoe Ann's Cheesecakes. Hats off to Zoe Ann for these mouth- watering gourmet cheesecakes that come in a variety of flavors. Decadence never tasted to good.