Monday, July 13, 2009

Day Two of the Oregon Lavender Festival

The weather took a decided turn for our second day of tooling the highways and byways of Oregon, enjoying farm after farm of lavender. It was hard to believe that last year we were sweltering in triple digit heat and have agreed that overcast is much preferable to blazing sun. By the end of day we had rain, but by that time the festival was over for another year and we were tooling the aisles of Goodwill in McMinnville!
My friend Violet was obligated to sing at church before we could go out and play so we got off to a bit of a late start. We began day two of our lavender journey at Lavender Thyme Herb Farm in Canby on Needy Road (a most inauspicious name) where we’d been greeted by the growling dog the evening before because they’d closed early. This time the place was bustling with people. We purchased some lavender things and then sat at one of their umbrella shaded tables—although there was no need for shade—and ate our picnic lunch.
After we’d fueled ourselves we headed to Independence, Oregon, stopping along the way at Fred Meyer to fuel the car and the bank to fuel our pocketbooks. At Independence we went to Lavender Lake Farms which is located right along South Pacific Highway. Although the location was not as picturesque as other farms we’ve been to, the lavender was beautiful and the gift shop lovely. It was there that I purchased some lavender chocolates which we enjoyed at day’s close.
Not only is Oregon littered with lavender farms, but vineyards abound as well. Our next stop, Daffodil Hill Vineyard, was both—or attempting to be. Nominally located in Rickreall, Oregon, it is actually a good ways up more than one gravel road, but the drive was beautiful taking us past fields of mown hay and grapevines. It is truly beautiful country. When we had wended our way halfway up the drive we were met by a woman collecting an admission fee. We were flabbergasted as no farm has ever charged an admission fee to see the farm and for the opportunity to buy their wares and nowhere in the Oregon Lavender Festival brochure was a fee mentioned.

We were told that the money was going to go to “Women Ending Hunger.” We’d driven a long ways to see this farm and turning around wasn’t going to be easy so we each grudgingly passed the woman five dollars. I am sure that “Women Ending Hunger” is a laudable charity and we were given a little handout about the organization, but no receipt for tax purposes. Presumably the farm will be getting the income tax deduction for the money collect. We were flagged into a field where we parked and briefly waited for a small tractor and wagon to take us the rest of the way up the drive. Since there was a large party ahead of us we decided to walk.

Daffodil Hill Vineyard has a lovely situation and it was lively with booths and music and people (they were making a big dent in hunger). Unfortunately for us most of the booths held no enticement to spend money as it was geared for the wine/western crowd, not lavender. Their lavender products shop had many expensive items which we did not purchase. We might have been more inclined to had we not felt as though we’d just been held up at the pass so to speak. After seeing all that there was to be seen and using their port-a-potty we hopped on the next tractor wagon back down the hill, disappointed with the whole thing. It is not that I have anything against "Women Ending Hunger" or giving to charity, it is just that I like for it to be my idea and a freewill offering. While the woman in the road was wearing a smile instead of a bandana and was not packing a six-shooter, I felt as though we'd been held up.
We could not help but feel that we had to a great extent wasted our time with Daffodil Hill Vineyard. Yes, the drive, while on a less than desirable road, had been beautiful, our Lavender Festival time was running out. Violet turned her now very dusty car toward Dayton, Oregon and Red Ridge Farms. Red Ridge was a known quantity as we had been there last year and despite the soaring temperatures had enjoyed the gorgeous views from that ridge. It was just before 4 PM when we arrived and the place was nearly deserted, a much different atmosphere than last year. One of the beauties of Red Ridge Farms is that they not only have fields of lavender, they have some beautiful garden accessories. I have been looking for a pot for my fichus which my grandson knocked over, breaking the pot. Flower pots, even plastic ones, can be expensive and so far I had been disappointed. As if to sooth us for wasted journey to the previous farm, providence had placed a very reasonably priced and beautiful purple pot in my path.

We had hoped to view one more farm before Oregon Lavender Festival 2009 came to a close, but traffic convinced us otherwise. We drove back to McMinnville to their Goodwill (it is always nice to visit other Goodwills) and then to Silverton for dinner at Thai Dish before heading back to Mt. Angel. Our lavender journey was at an end, to be stored away amongst the memories we have acquired together these past 52 years.

Advice I would give about festival going in general is to pack a picnic and take plenty of cash. Many of the little booths you come upon do not have the ability to accept plastic although most vendors are gracious about checks. If you can ask of someone about places ahead of time, do so. You will save yourself time and money.

This day we ended not with a growling dog, but with Sophie the Cat who was very happy for company.


Grandma L said...

There is nothing more beautiful than Mother Nature's creations.
I just loved your pictures.

Stephanie Frieze said...

I agree with you on Mother Nature. She sure smelled good this weekend! The fields of batchlor buttons around Silverton and Mt. Angel were so beautiful and the hills of mown hay next to fields of grapes were lovely. What a restful trip!

Stephanie Frieze said...

I would like to give an update on the situation at the Daffodil Hill Farm that I wrote about. After contacting both the farm and the Oregon Lavender Association I discovered that 1) I wasn't the only person to complain about the entrance fee, 2) the OLA didn't know that Daffodil Hill was charging a fee, and 3) the fee was to cover the cost of the farm's entertainment that weekend with the balance going to Women Ending Hunger. This last bit I have in writing from the owner of the farm.

I would like to say again that the farm is beautiful and the atmosphere festive. My quibble is with the entrance fee. Were all of the farms to charge fees the festival would cease to be a tour because people would not be able to go to many farms, particularly in these economic farms.

To M., who emailed me criticizing this post I would say I am glad that you had a better experience than we did at Daffodil. It is a lovely farm to be sure, but had we known that they were charging what was quoted to us as an "entrance fee," we probably would not have gone there given the large number of farms on the tour, none of which charged.