Philip Foster Farm hosts Victorian Oregon event featuring a vintage wedding dress show

by: MELISSA ADELE HASKIN - Allison Kirk, 13, models Wilma Guttridge's dress, which Guttridge made 63 years ago.There were many wedding dresses and even wedding cake at Philip Foster Farm on July 15, 2012. But there were no weddings. They all had taken place many years ago. On July 15, the dresses were modeled in a Victorian Oregon fashion show.

The fashion show was part of Mary Charlotte’s Garden Party, an event that occurs each year on the third Sunday in July. Event Coordinator Amber Milmore said the event has been occurring for about 10 years. Its goal is expose guests to Victorian Oregon.

The day began with the main event, the fashion show. Five young women wore dresses. Some were related to the dresses owners; others were volunteers. Though 11 dresses in all were showcased, not all were worn. Some were too delicate. All of the dresses but one —a replica — were at least 50 years old.

Each dress had a history. Twelve-year-old Lila Moustul first became aware of Jim Elliot when he threw a strawberry at her. Years later she married him wearing an elegant satin and lace gown that is now 58 years old.

Ila Upton wore an eggshell slipper satin gown, which she made, when she married Dean Edwards on July 25, 1948. One day in high school, Ila found a group of girls fighting over who could wear Dean’s watch — a symbol of courtship. Ila jokingly said, “No, I get it.” Dean replied, “Give her the watch.” A year later they were married.

Each dress had intricate details; many were altered to be worn more than once. Ila’s dress was worn in three weddings. Meanwhile, Tenny Mostul’s dress was altered so she could continue to wear it after her wedding.

During the show, Wilma Guttridge stood next to a young girl in a simple flowing white gown with long sleeves. Wilma had worn the gown 63 years ago when she married Joe Guttridge. She made it herself, sewing on 26 buttons to hide her zipper. She also used lace she found in the attic; it had belonged to her grandmother.

Besides the vintage wedding dress show, the garden party included a presentation on roses and their importance to local history. The farm will be putting in a rose garden using bushes from the area that date back to the first settlers.

Live music and cake also were featured. On the front porch, a married couple played a dulcimer and a double bass while people ate cakes made from vintage recipes. In the barn, children excitedly shucked corn, the kernels flowing into a bowl; the children then ground the kernels using a turn-wheel machine. Others picnicked.

Sheila and Chuck Fagan of Portland brought their grandson to the event. “It was a fabulous day,” Sheila said, adding that her family were pioneers too.

Mary Charlotte was the wife of Philip Foster. Their farm was one of the last stops on the Oregon Trail in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The barn dates back to 1860 and the house to 1883. Mary was known for making meals for all of the immigrants who came through.

Today the farm stands as a living museum and hosts events throughout the year. Later this summer there will be a barn dance, a Dutch oven cookoff and a cider squeeze where people can make their own cider.

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