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Tillamook County Celebrates 100 Years of Swiss Influence on N. Oregon Coast

Published 09/22/22 at 8:10 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Tillamook County Celebrates 100 Years of Swiss Influence on N. Oregon Coast

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(Tillamook, Oregon) – Tillamook County itself has been around for more than 150 years, having celebrated its sesquicentennial back in 2003. This large chunk of north Oregon coast is about to celebrate 100 years of something else: of being Swiss. Or at least being heavily influenced by the Swiss. (Above: near Nehalem, photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

It was 100 years ago this year that a group of pioneering Swiss families formed the Tillamook Swiss Society, wanting to honor the country they or their lineage had come from when they settled in the region. Since then, the families celebrated each year with traditional dances, music and food, and have continued as a community nonprofit.

There was even a Swiss-themed burger joint on the western edges of Tillamook for many decades.

Now, the Tillamook County Fairgrounds pulls out all the stops on Saturday, November 5 with the Tillamook Swiss Centennial celebration, whooping it up for a whole century of being a kind of Little Switzerland on the Oregon coast. You'll find a lederhosen Fun Run, Schwingfest competition, a corn hole tournament, Pioneer quilt show, music, dancing, good beer and Swiss-style food makes the day a celebration of cultural heritage.

It's time to practice your yodeling.

Activities start at 10:30 am with the Fun Run Check-in, and continue through 11 pm. Other highlights include the Steinstossen, axe throwing, Little Swiss Contest, and Swiss music and dance throughout the day, with a Swiss Stomp at 7 pm.

Also making an appearance is 4th generation dairy farmer, influencer Derrick Josi, known around the world as TDF Honest Farming, and the 2022 Tillamook June Dairy Ambassador Court – all coming from Tillamook Swiss Pioneer families. A longtime Oregon coast favorite, the Tillamook County Quilt Guild opens at noon with the Tidal Treasures Quilt Show celebrating 100 years of quilting and raffle. Putting around town will be Holly the Trolley, which provides free shuttle service around the fairgrounds from 12:30 to 6 pm, thanks to the Tillamook County Transportation District.

Tillamook County itself was the 12th area to become a county, established on December 15, 1953. Originally, it had been part of other counties: Clatsop, Yamhill and Polk. It was named after the Tillamook tribes who occupied this section of the Oregon coast around the bays at Tillamook and Nehalem.

Given the Swiss influx later, it's likely no coincidence this area is known for its cheese.

“The Swiss pioneers brought their expertise in dairy farming to this Oregon coastal environment, with the promise of building a new life for their families and creating a community,” said Julie Hurliman, a 4th generation Tillamook Swiss and the Community and Industry Programs Manager for Tillamook Coast Visitors Association. “With their hard work, collaboration and resilience, they laid the foundation for the area’s cheese making business -now a nationally known brand. I’m thrilled to be able to celebrate the cultural bonds of our community.”

Admission to the event is free; food and beverages are available onsite for purchase. There are fees for the Fun Run, Corn Hole tournament and axe-throwing.

For more information, follow Tillamook Swiss Centennial on Facebook. Download the full event schedule at https://bit.ly/3eQFfH6

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