DEEP RIVER — On Sunday, Dec. 8, the traditional Christmas concert, tour of homes and soup supper will, once again, mark the official start of the Christmas season in Pacific and Western Wahkiakum counties.
Starting at 1:30 p.m., the Christmas Concert will be performed in the Finnish Pioneer Church in Deep River. The home tour, featuring four local residences, is scheduled from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. The soup supper will be held at the Naselle Community Center (previously the Congregational Church) and is scheduled to take place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
This year, the Christmas concert features well-known singer and songwriter Carl Wirkkala. A resident of Castle Rock, Wirkkala is best recognized for his writing and performing of songs of the Northwest. Internationally known violinist and Naselle resident Kim Angelis is sure to wow the audience with her immense talent. Rounding out the musical performances will be Naselle resident Jan Wolf and the Bell Choir as they ring in Christmas music to signal the start of the Christmas season. Mike Swanson will serve as master of ceremonies.
There is no charge for the concert, although donations are appreciated. To reach the church, travel State Route 4 a little over 5 miles east of Naselle and turn off on either of the East or West Dike Roads that parallel Deep River. A journey of a little over a mile will attain the site of what was once the town of Deep River. At that point, continue about a mile up the valley on Deep River Valley Road to find the church on the right side of the road. Parking is available along the roadside or along the entry road to the Deep River Cemetery. Concertgoers are advised to arrive early since the pews are always fully packed by the start of the performances.
Tour of homes
Home tour organizer Darlene Bjornsgard has come up with an outstanding lineup of four homes this year. Tickets and maps for the home tour are available in Naselle at Mike Swanson Realty as well as the Hair Villa and can also be purchased at Finn Ware in Astoria. In addition, they will be available at the church, as well as each of the homes included in the tour. Tickets are $5 and the money received will be used to support the Finnish-American Folk Festival, a biennial festival held in Naselle on even-numbered years. The homes will be marked with balloons and signs and, this year, are all alongside State Route 4. Starting from east to west, the homes are:
• The Grays River home of Steve (Smoot) and Lorie Smith. This 3,300 square foot ranch-style home was designed by the Smiths and built by Tim and Rex Wilson from Wilson Brothers Construction during the past spring and summer. It is on 37 acres inherited by the Smiths from Smoot’s uncle Kenny Axmaker. This new residence means the Smiths are now closer to the shop Smoot uses as a log truck driver as well as both of their parents; Rod and Cecil Smith of Grays River and Tom and Rosalie Webb of Skamokawa. The home is a testimony to the design skills of the Smiths and the construction expertise of the two Wilson brothers.
• The Rosburg home of Don and Diane Dyer. One look at the renovation/remodeling performed by the Dyers and you will be saying, “Move over, Chip and Joanna Gaines.” After purchasing the home in December 2013, the Dyers moved in and immediately began the task of renovating, remodeling and updating the 1909 structure. Living in a house during remodeling is difficult to say the least, but the Dyers persevered, and the result is nothing short of miraculous. New roof, new windows, new chimney, new siding, new interior walls; the list goes on and on. It’s an uplifting story of what two people, working in concert, can accomplish and well worth the price of admission.
• The Deep River home of Bob and Thelma Miller. Originally built in 1929 for two sisters, Mary and Ellen Campbell, the home celebrates its 90th birthday this year. Unusual for the time, the four bedroom, two story home was constructed with three bathrooms. The Millers have called it home for the last 52 years. With a full basement and stand-up attic, it is a outstanding example of homes of the early 1900s. The farmhouse sits on 70 acres. For the last 50 years, Thelma, who loves to decorate, has collected Christmas ornaments and decorations which will be on display throughout the home. During that same time, she has collected some 150 cookies jars that will also be on display. A wonderful couple living in a wonderful home.
• The Naselle home of Mitzi Hunter. The house sits on property that was originally homesteaded by Peter Anderson, after whom Pete’s Creek was named. The farm came into the possession of Mitzi’s grandparents, Wendell and Emma Holm in 1920. They then built the original part of the house which was going to be a garage after a proper house was built. In the mid-1950s, Mitzi’s parents, Peter and Louise Hunter, returned to the farm following Peter’s service in the U.S. Navy. At one time, seven people were living together in the tiny house. That ended in 1961 when Wendell and Emma built a house across the road, leaving Peter and Louise on the farm. In the early 1970s, Louise designed the addition and Gary Luethe framed it out. As money was available, Peter and Louise completed the interior, doing most of the work themselves. Peter even made the oak kitchen cabinets. Mitzi Hunter and brother Peter Hunter now own the house and Pete’s Creek Ranch. They will celebrate the 120th anniversary of the farm with a family reunion in August 2020.
The soup supper is a not-to-be-missed event with its array of delicious soups. Like the concert, it is free to the public, although donations are encouraged and much appreciated. It is a superb way to end the day following the concert and home tour. The Naselle Community Center is at 14 Parpala Road in Naselle.