Marys River Grange No. 685 will host its Harvest Fest on the weekend of Oct. 8-9. (Photo provided by Judy Hays-Eberts)

Organized during a meeting at the high school in 1927, Marys River Grange’s presence in Philomath dates back nearly a century. The Grange Hall, constructed in 1934, serves as a connection to the community’s agricultural past.

Back in the day, grange halls served as a gathering place and community center for farmers and ranchers to trade, share best practices and develop policies to support the needs of local agriculture.

This weekend’s Harvest Fest at Marys River Grange Hall, which runs 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, in some ways hearkens back to those simpler times.

“Basically, the Harvest Fest is supposed to represent an old-time fair,” Harvest Fest organizer Susan Stogsdill said. “So, any of the vendors that are here, they’re making their own products — they’re not store-bought or catalog-bought. It’s to help some of those smaller crafters that have something they want to sell.”

Yes, handmade items from raw materials and hard work. Stogsdill said the final number of vendors will be determined at a meeting on Wednesday, but 12 to 15 are expected to participate.

Harvest Fest will also feature baked goods, produce stands and music with singalongs. Games and various activities will be offered and folks can even enjoy an old-fashioned apple cider press.

“I started it about five years ago and we had it running for a couple of years and then COVID interrupted,” Stogsdill said. “Instead of the Harvest Fest itself, we had an online art show and then we didn’t do anything last year. This year, we are at full force again.”

Sunbow Farm, which as of this year has been operating for a half-century, will be selling its bounty and Windy Hill Farms will also be on hand with its products.

GreenGable Farm, which sits right next door, will have its corn maze open to provide another activity for festivalgoers. The grange’s activities will include cornhole, ring toss and a fishing booth, just to name a few.

“We’re trying to promote family getting together, something that kids and parents alike can do and neither one gets totally bored out of their mind,” Stogsdill said.

For those with a hankering for some food, Mud Oven Pizza will be on site on Saturday only (before moving to the farmers’ market on Sunday).

The event will also feature a unique art show and sale.

“We’re doing mini-art and each little 3-by-3-inch panel will be selling for $20,” Stogsdill said. “Some are stained-glass work, some 3D work, pen and ink, nature-type things … the theme was farm so it will be interesting to see what people come up with.”

Proceeds from Harvest Fest will go into the grange’s foundation repair fund. The historic Grange Hall has seen recent foundation issues with moisture leading to the decay of some wooden supports.

“The floor has a little bit of a dip to it, so we’re going to be putting steel girders underneath,” Stogsdill said. “Pretty much any fundraising we’re doing now is all targeted towards that (project).”

Stogsdill said the foundation fundraising is almost halfway to the goal. Once that number is reached, the organization can begin to apply for grants.

“When I first started the Harvest Fest, the funds were going to be going to upgrading the kitchen,” Stogsdill said. “But when this happened, the funds just got diverted … we have to have a solid base.”

After the foundation issues are resolved, Stogsdill said the focus will return to interior improvements. An upgrade to a commercial kitchen is among those plans, something that the organization hopes will bring in additional rental income.

Admission to this weekend’s Harvest Fest is free. There is a charge to enter GreenGable’s corn maze.

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.