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All Work And All Play, Oregon’s Month Long Party

In September we celebrated the harvest with our annual Harvest Festival at Rogue Farms.  A whole day’s worth of music, games, arts and crafts, and beer. When it was all over we were tired and worn out – but it was a good kind of tired.

However, we are mere amateurs compared to how the old timers used to do things around here.

Back in the early 1900s, when hops were picked by hand, the harvest celebration went on for a month! Work hard all day. Party hard at night. Repeat.

An extended family at a hop picking camp in 1905. Photo from Oregon State University archives.

An extended family at a hop pickers camp in 1905. Photo from Oregon State University archives.

For 11 months out of the year, a small crew could manage even the biggest hopyard. But when picking season came around growers needed lots of workers, and needed them fast.

It took some 50,000 workers to pick all the hops that grew around Independence, Oregon during the first half of the 20th Century. To get all those workers to leave the comforts of home and travel long distances to the hop rows, growers knew they had to offer something special. Good pay and good times for everybody in the family.

Picking family

A family picking hops in the 1930s. Photo from Oregon State University archives.

In just a few weeks, a family could earn enough money picking hops to see them through for the next six months. For some, the cash was a nice bonus. For those hard on their luck, it was a lifesaver.

Hop Picking Camp Store Oregon State Library

Pickers kept track of how much money they earn with special punch cards. The cards were as good as cash at campground stores…

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…and at stores along main street of Independence. Pickers traded in their punch cards for actual cash weekly or biweekly, depending on the grower. Photos from the Oregon State Library.

Children were not expected to pick as much as adults and were sometimes “paid” with a cold bottle of soda.

Taking A Break 1930s Oregon State Library

Break time. Courtesy Oregon State Library.

In addition to paying people to pick hops, growers also provided them with a place to stay. Families were given tents, bedding, camp stoves and fuel to use during the picking season. Large campgrounds sprang up across the region.

A hop pickers camp in 1936.

A hop pickers camp in 1936. Courtesy Oregon State Library.

Hop Pickers 1938 Salem Library

It wasn’t glamorous, but for most families camping out during the hop harvest was an adventure. Courtesy Salem Public Library.

At night, the campgrounds turned festive. Growers entertained the pickers concerts, dances, bonfires and movies. For singles, there was a chance of a summer romance and the hope of finding a future spouse.

Love in the bines. Courtesy Oregon State Library.

Love among the bines. Courtesy Oregon State Library.

Anytime you gather thousands of people from different regions, classes and ethnic backgrounds, nothing goes off without a hitch. But to their credit, the hop pickers of Oregon got along well as they worked alongside each in the bines during the day, and celebrated in the evening. For many families, hop picking became a tradition as they returned year after year.

At Rogue Farms, we’re proud to be part of Oregon’s hop and beer heritage. We grow seven varieties of hops at our farm in Independence, Oregon, the Historic Hop Capital of the World. We also grow our own pumpkins, marionberries, corn, wheat, rye, jalapeños, honey from our 7,140,289 honeybees, as well as two varieties of malting barley at our farm in Tygh Valley.

Head out to our farm this fall and get a front row seat to the Grow Your Own Revolution!

roguefarms grow the revolution_web

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