Stop and Smell the Lavender!
Willamette Valley Lavender Festival and Plein Air Art Show – July 9-10, 2016 at the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg
If you’ve never driven through Yamhill Valley on a summer day with the windows down, your nose doesn’t know it’s missing. By July, country roads around the state come scented with the distinctly sweet smell of lavender and fans of the flower flock to Newberg for a weekend of purple-tinged art and activities.
Celebrated since 2004, the lavender festival moved in 2015 from Yamhill to the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg to accommodate more vendors and visitors. We asked longtime festival organizer and lavender farmer Marilyn Kosel a few questions about last year’s transition and what to expect this year.
TYV: How did the move to Newberg go last year and what are the benefits of the new location?
Marilyn: Moving the festival to Newberg was a tough decision but we felt that the move was necessary for the long term success and growth of the festival. We now have greatly expanded space for the craft vendors and the art show. We are closer to a cluster of lavender farms for people to visit, and some other positive changes we made to the Oregon Lavender Paint Out and the Plein Air Art Show have made a dramatic difference in the size and prestige of that part of the event.
TYV: What’s the most popular part of the festival? What’s your personal favorite?
Marilyn: The Plein Air Art Show has become very popular with both artists and the public. In 2015 and again this year, we have more than doubled the number of participating artists and are expecting around 100 artists to register this year, including several from out of the area. There will be about 300 original works available for purchase at the show. All paintings are completed in a two-week time frame and painted in the beautiful lavender fields located across Oregon. As one of the founders of the event and a lavender farmer, I’m personally passionate about every aspect of the festival but my one of my favorite parts is that the event is a fundraiser that benefits our community.
TYV: What kinds of things can visitors look forward to at the festival this year?
Marilyn: There are things people may not know about the Willamette Valley Lavender Festival. We have GREAT music and often feature bands that played at the Waterfront Blues Festival just the weekend before. We have lavender beer, (and it’s really good!) as well as some great lavender farms close by that people can tour, and, best of all admission is free!