Makayla Lillie, 15, said roping is her favorite event in ranch horse competitions. (Photo provided by Makayla Lillie)

A correction was made at 6:49 a.m. Nov. 4, 2023: An earlier version of this article listed 7 p.m. as the start time for the Philomath Christmas Sing-a-Long based on information submitted by the organizer. The information was later corrected to a 6 p.m. start time.

Living in a rural section of the county out in the Alpine vicinity, 15-year-old Makayla Lillie had to chuckle when asked if she lived on a ranch.

“Well, sort of,” she laughed. “We have about 14 head of cattle.”

It was a valid question based on what Makayla had pulled off earlier this month in Klamath Falls. The daughter of Lora and Brian Lillie and a sophomore at Philomath High School, she took first place in her age group in the intermediate division at the Statewide 4-H Ranch Horse Competition Oct. 7-8 at the Klamath County Fairgrounds.

Obviously, the size of a ranch doesn’t matter when it comes to mastering those skills.

“This is my last year there as intermediate so I thought I had a better chance and decided to go,” Makayla said. “It was the same weekend as Philomath’s homecoming so I had to decide which one I wanted to go to.”

The ranch horse competitions include six events — showmanship, cow working, roping, working rancher, ranch horse trail and ranch horse skills. The ranch horse skills part of the competition involves identification, knowledge and skills tests.

Lillie earned a championship belt buckle for her performance Oct. 7-8 at the Statewide 4-H Ranch Horse Competition in Klamath Falls. (Photo provided by Candi Bothum)

“You identify items that you’d use on a ranch and then you can also perform skills like performing a vaccine or wrapping a leg, tagging a cow,” Makayla said. 

To qualify for state, contestants had to come out of the regional competitions — Makayla was in the Benton County Horse Fair — with a minimum average score of 80 in their five best events.

“I think my strongest event is roping and I also enjoy doing the trail aspect of it,” she said.

As for where she needs to improve, Makayla mentioned ranch horse pattern, also known as the working rancher event, and that comes down to her horse.

“It’s just because she’s younger but at state we actually had a really good pattern,” she said. “I’m excited because we seem to be improving quite quickly.”

Makayla’s age division included 24 qualifiers. It was the second straight year that she has participated in the statewide event — last year placing third.

Yvonne McMillan has brought several events to Philomath, such as a Talk Like a Pirate Day celebration. The newest event will be the Philomath Christmas Sing-a-Long on Dec. 9. (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

2. Getting into the Christmas spirit

A new event is coming to Philomath this Christmas season with an effort organized by Yvonne McMillan, the local resident, musician and retired teacher who continues to come up with creative arts and entertainment ideas for the community.

The Philomath Christmas Sing-a-Long is scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9 at Marys River Grange Hall.

Here’s how Yvonne describes it: “A holiday celebration filled with musical magic, goodies, fireside warmth, Christmas cheer and song. Sing along with your caroling favorites and enjoy a few performances by local musicians.”

The event will feature a dessert potluck and with “holiday dress or ugly sweater” as the preferred attire. 

“For part of the evening, we will use the caroling book ‘Christmas in Song,’” Yvonne said.

For those who would like to purchase the song book in advance, here’s a link. But she says that’s not a requirement, only optional.

Philomath is becoming quite the Christmas city with the chamber’s annual tree-lighting event at the museum. There’s also talk of a Christmas parade being organized for the first time this year. More on that later.

One final message from Yvonne: “Happy Holidays! Hope to see you there!”

Alyrica Networks’ Willamette Valley Broadband Event is coming Nov. 30 to the Knife River Training Center in Albany. (Photo by Canva)

3. Reserve spot at big broadband event

The Willamette Valley Broadband Event returns for a second year, Philomath-based Alyrica Networks announced. The event will run from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30 at the Knife River Training Center in Albany (35973 Kennel Road SE).

Those interested can reserve their spot at this link. It is a free event but registration is required, organizers said.

Rep. Pam Marsh will be the keynote speaker at the event. (Photo provided by Alyrica Networks)

The five-hour event will feature state and federal entities, local internet providers, industry experts and consumers all focused on establishing effective broadband solutions within the Willamette Valley.

The keynote speaker will be Rep. Pam Marsh (D-Southern Jackson County), who has been a member of the Oregon Broadband Advisory Council since 2017. Marsh has authored bills to establish a state broadband office and to set the state’s course for broadband expansion. She has also been the chief sponsor of other bills addressing broadband infrastructure challenges.

The event will include a light breakfast, technology demonstrations and a facility tour of the recently opened Knife River Training Center.

(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at

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.