Champoeg Holiday Gathering

3 12 2013

IMG_0104-2I’m tempted to share about Champoeg State Heritage Area in its entirety, but will expound on it in subsequent blogs and focus on the annual Holiday Gathering. I love experiencing Champoeg State Park every season of the year and will give a brief overview of what it offers. Champoeg is an American Kalapuyan Indian word signifying a location that grows yampah, a native edible root relative to a carrot. Many Native American tribes lived on this prairie land and traded with each other. Canadian fur trappers arrived in the area in the early 1800s and traded with these tribes. American pioneers on the Oregon Trail settled here in the 1840s, named the town Champoeg, and established the first provisional government of the Oregon Country. The nearby Willamette River flooded and destroyed the original town of Champoeg in 1861.

IMG_3005-2The pet-friendly Champoeg State Heritage Area provides 615 acres of wetlands, wildlife viewing sites, forests, hiking trails, fields, paved bike trails, private and group picnicking areas, and camping. Camping accommodations include tents, trailers, yurts, and cabins. Champoeg also includes The Newell House, Visitor Center, Threshing Barn, 1860s Kitchen Garden, Pioneer Mothers Log Cabin, Historic Butteville Store, and Pavilion/Monument at the site where Oregon’s government established. Interpretive programs presented throughout the year called Living History Saturdays teach and celebrate 19th century prairie life and the cultures of Native Americans, pioneers, and families of the Hudson’s Bay Company through costumed interpreters.

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Champoeg’s Holiday Gathering occurs in the red barn Visitor Center on the first Saturday each DecemberThe Visitor Center sits on the original plot of Donald Manson’s retirement farm. Manson was a Chief Trader for the Hudson’s Bay Company at Fort Vancouver under John McLoughlin. Costumed interpreters perform live music, give demonstrations, tell stories, and assist participants in 19th century Christmas activities. Visitors make and take home evergreen swags, pomanders, popcorn-cranberry garlands, and various crafts such as yarn God’s Eyes, sachets, and wooden toys and ornaments. Enjoy hot drinks, treats, IMG_0111year-round interpretive exhibits, a gift shop, and a bookstore. All Holiday Gathering activities are ADA accessible. This event is free but includes the $5 per vehicle day-use parking fee required for all visitors. Locate the Visitor Center at 8239 Champoeg Road NE in Saint Paul, Oregon 97137. For more information, go to or call (503) 678-1251 Ext. 221.

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