Saturday’s weather was scorching, and the hot place to cool off was Philomath Museum’s water-themed Family Day.
The free event included educational booths and fun activities. Attendees could examine beaver skulls, try to wash clothes the old-fashioned way, or simply enjoy a cool spray of water falling from a Philomath Fire and Rescue ladder truck.
A few photos from Family Day at Philomath Museum on Saturday, July 15.
Adrian Zhang, 3, of Corvallis, laughed and played in the gentle, makeshift sprinkler.
“He likes water,” said his mother, Maggie Zhang.
Adrian also got to sit in a firetruck for the first time Saturday.
“He loves the firetruck and I read tons of firetruck books for him. So it’s a pretty good experience,” his mom said.
For Corbin Asherl, 11, of Philomath, the best part of the day was checking out the Benton County Sheriff’s Office marine patrol boat in the museum’s parking lot.
“I want to be in the Coast Guard,” Asherl explained.
Mickey Mieding, of Corvallis, took a photo of his daughter, Sylvan Mieding, 5, as she posed with mermaid Nicia Allred, also known on social media as the Bright Eyed Siren. Allred, of Myrtle Point, was particularly popular with girls, some of whom carried mermaid dolls.
While there were plenty of kids screaming, at least one adult shouted with joy thanks to the Oregon State University Extension Service, which conducted well water testing for residents who brought samples.
Chrissy Lucas, OSU Extension Service outreach program coordinator, told Bridget Brown that there was nothing to be worried about with her well outside Corvallis.
“Yes! Score!” Brown exclaimed.
Brown wasn’t overly concerned, but her nephew was in town and she knew he’d like the firetruck at Family Day. So she brought a water sample — just in case.
Organizations at Family Day included the Clemens Community Pool, the Marys River Watershed Council, the Benton Soil and Water Conservation District, the Oregon Coast Aquarium, the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library, Benton County Natural Areas and Parks, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the OSU crew team and more.
This year’s Family Day tied into the Philomath Museum’s current exhibit, “Water Works.”
“We explore the sources of water in Benton County and how water was used in the county,” said Terri Thomas, membership and community engagement coordinator for the Benton County Historical Society.
“Water Works” touches on personal and industrial uses of water, as well as wildlife habitats. The exhibit, which will be on display for the rest of the year, Thomas said.
The annual Family Day typically is connected to an exhibit at the museum, to juxtapose the past and the present and show that history isn’t just dusty artifacts on shelves, she said.
“We’re having so many issues with water, from drought to flooding,” Thomas added.
The art exhibit on the second floor of the museum, “Flow,” also is water-themed. The show features work created by members of the Corvallis Arts Guild, and runs through July 22.
Thomas said that the Benton County Historical Society remained committed to holding events and continuing exhibitions at the Philomath Museum, despite the organization opening the Corvallis Museum in 2021.
“This is our first home, this is where our collection is housed, and so it’s a very important center for us,” Thomas said. “We feel a museum can hold the heartbeat of our community … be the face of our community.”
In a way, the Philomath Museum building at 1101 Main St., has always been central to the town’s identity.
Philomath, or “lover of learning” in Greek,” is named after Philomath College, which operated at the site from 1867 until closing in 1929. The structure was used as a church and then fell into disrepair by the early 1970s before residents volunteered to rehabilitate it.
The historical society relocated to the building in 1980 and opened a museum.
“We’re not going anywhere. We’re dedicated to this community and this building and the legacy that local citizens have given us,” Thomas said.
For more information about the Philomath Museum and to learn about upcoming events, go online to the organization’s website.