The Astoria Regatta, which has celebrated the community's connections to the water since 1894, has been named an Oregon Heritage Tradition by the Oregon Heritage Commission.
The Astoria Regatta is only the fourth event given the honor. The others include the Oregon State Fair (founded 1858), the Linn County Pioneer Picnic (1887) and the comparatively young Pendleton Roundup (1910).
"The Heritage Commission wants to recognize those traditions that have helped define the state," said Commission chair David Lewis. "They are distinguished events that are part of our heritage as Oregonians. This is certainly true of the Astoria Regatta."
Regatta President Peter Roscoe states: "We are all thrilled and honored to be receiving the Oregon Heritage Tradition for our Historic Regatta Event in the oldest American City west of the Rockies."
The Astoria Regatta traces its beginnings back to 1894 when some residents decided they wanted a way for the community to celebrate the return of Astoria fishermen from Alaska aboard boats filled with salted fish. Rapidly the annual celebration of the community blossomed into one of the premier boat contests on the West Coast.
The Astoria of 1894 was a cultural hodgepodge comprised of Native Americans, Scandinavian, Chinese and the usual polyglot of American/Europeans. Early pictures of the Regatta show elaborate festivities amid the thriving downtown that was built over the river on wooden planks.
While Astoria skipped the event during the two world wars and after a 1922 fire that destroyed much of the city, the Astoria Regatta planners today make a year-long effort to create the event, which this year will be Aug. 7-11. More than 60 volunteers spend approximately 10 hours a week year-round planning and promoting the regatta.
The event brings together 8,000 to 10,000 people, including people who bring their boats and drop anchors along the riverfront during the entire length of the celebration. More than 50 events take place during the Astoria Regatta.
An Oregon Heritage Tradition must have been in continuous operation for more than 50 years, demonstrates a public profile and reputation that distinguishes it from more routine events, and add to the livability and identity of the state, said Commission coordinator Kyle Jansson. For more information, visit http://www.oregon.gov/oprd/HCD/OHC/pages/oht.aspx
The Oregon Heritage Commission coordinates efforts to solve statewide heritage issues through grants, education, and advocacy, and also promotes heritage tourism efforts.