Hundreds emerge from snow to attend Umpqua Valley Home & Garden Show
After this week’s snowstorm caused widespread power outages and trapped many Douglas County residents at home for days, Dana O’Reilly feared the Umpqua Valley Home & Garden Show may not happen.
As executive officer of the Umpqua Valley Home Builders Association, which puts on the annual event at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, O’Reilly said she’s always a bit nervous about how the weekend-long event will turn out. This year, the anxiety was higher, she said.
“There were times where I was sitting in my office without power looking out the window with snow coming down and thinking, ‘Is this going to happen?’” she said.
But O’Reilly’s anxiety passed after the county reopened the fairgrounds late in the week, and the event’s more than 100 vendors began to set up booths for opening day on Friday. Many vendors attributed the slow start Friday to persistent snow and power outage issues in the area. By noon on Saturday, the event was in full swing as almost 800 tickets had been sold.
After dodging drops of snowmelt coming off the event buildings, people chatted with vendors, tried samples, listened to several event presentations and bought goods from salmon jerky to kitchen cabinets to mattresses.
Many people at the event shared stories about their experiences with the snowstorm earlier in the week.
Max Circle, of Full Circle Tree Service, said nearly everyone who passed by his booth asked about how busy he was this week. One person walked by and said, “I’d expect you guys to out working right now.” Another person picked up business card and said, “I’ll be giving you guys a call.”
Circle said he wasn’t sure if he would be able to set up a booth because he has been so busy.
“It’s been crazy,” he said. “I go out on the calls for work, and it’s a mess out there.”
Circle said he usually gets one or two calls for service a day, but this week he had almost 300 calls from people needing downed trees to be cut out of their driveways and off their houses.
“I’m overwhelmed,” he said. “I almost didn’t come to the show.”
Ken Terry said he was one of the many people without power this week, but he came to the event get some ideas for a remodel he’s planning on his family’s house. Saturday was Family Day at the event, and Terry and his wife were glad vendors had plenty to keep their kids happy while they talked to contractors.
“Kids did the face painting and they’re hitting every booth for all the candy they can possibly stuff in their faces,” Terry said.
The community-building atmosphere at the event is O’Reilly’s favorite part, she said. Community service organizations are equally important to the event as the home and garden show vendors, she said.
She was “honored” the event could feature daily bunkbed building demonstrations from Sleep in Heavenly Peace, a local nonprofit that delivers beds to families that cannot afford beds for their kids. She was also proud the event could host a Bloodworks Northwest blood drive, the YMCA of Douglas County, Saving Grace Pet Adoption Center, NeighborWorks Umpqua and other community service organizations.
“Community involvement is a huge part of it,” O’Reilly said. “People can come and connect and engage as well as shop and get creative ideas for their homes and gardens.”
People receive $1 off their $4 admission ticket by bringing a can of food to donate to the United Community Action Network food drive. O’Reilly said last year the event collected about 4,000 pounds of food.
For the first time, this year’s event features presentations on home and garden-related topics throughout each day. About 10 people attended a presentation Saturday by Kyle Reed, of the Douglas Forest Protective Association, about fire-resistant landscaping techniques.
Saturday’s event was wrapped up by live music by Neil Johnson at the beer garden. The event will continue from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.