European Heritage: Cultural Arts and Communities in Oregon’s Tualatin Valley
Oregon’s Tualatin Valley is truly a diverse mixture of culture and communities, and local organizations and restaurateurs celebrate European heritage by bringing traditional customs and culture to the area with foods, dance, music and art.
Cultural Organizations & Events
From traditional dance to Celtic concerts, S and A Irish Entertainment and Events celebrates Irish and Celtic cultures. S and A hold cultural events, such as dance classes, dances and concerts at the Winona Grange in Tualatin and other venues throughout the Portland area. Since the organization’s founding, founders Sam Keator and Anne Doherty have become a linchpin in the Portland region’s community of Irish musicians and dancers.
Nordic Northwest is the home for all things Nordic in Oregon and Southwest Washington. This organization hosts concerts, art exhibits, lectures, dances and other performances that celebrate the cultures of Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden. Many of these events are held at the Nordia House, located in Tualatin Valley, with architecture inspired by Viking shops, rune stones and birch forests. Nordia House features a growing collection of contemporary and traditional Nordic art.
Annual cultural events include:
- St. Patrick’s Day parade in Hillsboro
- Helvetia Culture Fest, which celebrates this community’s Swiss and Native American Heritage
- Oktoberfest, a German celebration at McMenamins Grand Lodge
- Verboort Sausage Festival, a sausage and sauerkraut dinner that celebrates the Dutch community of Verboort
Agricultural and Historical Contributions
Starting in the 1860s, land grant programs and the area’s outstanding agricultural reputation began drawing many new settlers to northwestern Oregon—including Scottish, German, Russian, Swiss, Austrian and Dutch—whose legacy is felt in settlements along the route like Helvetia, Roy and Verboort, all in current-day Washington County.
A noted Scottish contribution to the region is the Tualatin Plains Presbyterian Church, also known as the Old Scotch Church. The current church building, on the road bearing its name, was completed in 1878 and is a national historic site. It has an unusual eight-sided steeple and is one of the oldest continuously used churches in Oregon.
VanderZanden Farms, just north of Hillsboro, carries on its Dutch farming heritage at this seasonal tulip farm. Characterized by the windmill in the middle of the property, the VanderZandens grow more than 30 varieties of tulips on seven acres, which is a site to behold during blooming season. During growing season, tulips, hyacinths and peonies–which they pick daily–are available for purchase at their well-stocked farm stand.
Culinary & Shopping Experiences
The Original Bavarian Sausage & Deli offers a range of authentic German foods, including sausages and meat spreads. Grocery items include many foods and other products imported from Germany. The deli is open for dine-in, as well.
Gustav’s and the Bargarten Bavarian Social House specialize in German and Bavarian cuisine, such as sausages, schnitzel and spätzle, which are paired nicely with locally produced and imported German bier.
Located in Beaverton’s “Restaurant Row,” decarli features a menu that combines chef Paul Decarli’s Swiss and Italian heritage. This popular happy hour spot also has an extensive drinks menu, including a large selection of wines from Italy.
Broder Söder, housed in the Scandinavian Heritage Foundation’s Nordia House, is the sister restaurant to the esteemed Swedish Broder, This location serves breakfast and lunch, including classic Swedish dishes, such as open-faced sandwiches and “fika,” the Swedish coffee break.
La Provence Boulangerie and Patisserie (with locations in Hillsboro and Beaverton) bring the sweet and savory tastes of French pastries to Tualatin Valley. This restaurant features a full menu and the bakery features a large selection of French breads and pastries, including flaky croissants, papillon and tarts, tasty macarons, rich chocolate and more.