Things to Do
The cities of Monmouth and Independence are located in the heart of the Willamette Valley in the historic hop capitol of the world. We are a less than 30 minute drive from both Salem and Corvallis, and a mere hour from Eugene, Portland, and the Oregon coast. Visit a festival, listen to music in a park, enjoy local wineries, or spend the day shopping in our historic downtowns.
To view current community events, visit our community calendar.
Click the image to view our 2016 Visitor Guide.
Annual Community Events
Annual State of the Cities Address
Presented by the Monmouth-Independence Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center, the annuals State of the Cities Address is held in January (occasionally in February) on the campus of Western Oregon University. The event features the Mayor of Independence and the Mayor of Monmouth as they recap highlights from the previous year and look ahead to upcoming projects and goals for the new year.
After the holiday break, Western Oregon University invites the family and friends of students to join in the annual Parents and Family Weekend. Students have the opportunity to reconnect and show grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, and friends their university, as well as participate in fun-filled programs!
Community Awards Banquet
Held annually at Eola Hills Wine Cellars on the first Friday in March, the Monmouth-Independence Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center’s Community Awards Banquet celebrates member businesses and organizations, as well as individuals, for their contributions to our community with an evening of distinction and recognition. Business/Organizational award categories include: Retail Service, Food & Beverage Service, Personal Service Provider, Professional Service Provider, Non-Profit/Organization, and Business/Organization of the Year. Individual award categories include: First Citizen, Distinguished Service, Junior Citizen, Educator of the Year, and Education Support Staff of the Year. Business/organizational winners are determined by online votes and individual winners are determined by a selection committee who review submitted online entries making this a true community celebration!
Festival Informativo is a family-oriented event catered specifically to Spanish-speaking Latino families in the Independence area presented by the City of Independence. It is an opportunity to provide Latino families with an overview of key services available to them here and surrounding areas while enjoying food and and entertainment in Riverview Park.
Discover MI Town
Discover MI Town provides an opportunity for visitors and locals alike to explore the beautiful downtown areas of our community while participating businesses and organizations showcase their products and services. Organized by the Monmouth-Independence Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center annually on the third Saturday in May, ticket holders receive free giveaways and have a chance to be entered to win a basket filled with goodies from host sites. Shuttle service is provided as folks eat, drink, shop, and Discover MI Town!
Take in this old time Independence Day celebration. Start with the Reconstituted Band Concert, featuring home town musicians, in Main Street Park, enjoy the Fireman’s pancake breakfast in the local fire station, followed by the Mini Marathon from Monmouth City Hall to Riverview Park in Independence. The popular Holiday Parade of floats, fire trucks, riding clubs, and more begins on the campus of Western Oregon University and winds its way into Independence. Round out the day with a visit to the vendor stalls and food booths in Main Street Park which also features live entertainment all day.
Independence celebrates its name with a multi-day celebration. While the dates change yearly, they are always centered on the 4th of July. During the celebration, Riverview Park is filled with vendor and food booths plus many family activities. Two nights of spectacular fireworks are displayed over the river and can be viewed from the amphitheater in Riverview Park. It doesn’t matter where you live, if you want to see the best fireworks in Oregon make Independence your destination for the 4th of July!
Music in the Park is a free summer music series presented by the Monmouth Business Association. Concerts featuring different genres of music are held every Wednesday evening beginning at 6:30 PM during July and August in Main Street Park. Come enjoy the music, friendly people, food, and beer and wine garden.
The City of Independence’s River’s Edge Summer Series includes free movies on Thursdays and concerts on Fridays in July and August in Riverview Park. The family-friendly movies and music are sure to please, as well as the food vendors and beer/wine tent.
Enjoy Latino music, food, dancing, and more, including the coronation of the Fiesta Queen. This annual event is organized by IM Community/Soy Comunidad to engage the community in the celebration of Latino traditions.
Community Yard Sale
Hosted the Saturday of Labor Day weekend by the Monmouth Business Association in Main Street Park, the Community Yard Sale is filled with lots of vendors and treasures. This yard sale is sure to please everyone from students moving into their first apartment to people looking for those hard to find, special items.
Not all of our history is traditional, some of it is of the spectral variety! The Friday evening of the Hop & Heritage Festival, folks gather at Riverview Park for the Ghost Walk and take a tour through what is purported to be a very haunted area. Walkers learn local history as they hear favorite ghost stories and visit “active” sites. This free annual event organized by the Independence Downtown Association draws hundreds of people and is always a crowd-pleaser.
The “original” Hop Festival, also known as the Hop Fiesta, began in the 1930’s. The festival grew out of end-of-the-harvest celebrations in the migrant camps in the hop fields. As the hop harvest declined, the festival ceased to be held. In 2001 the festival was rejuvenated and takes place the third weekend in September. Today the festival is a great success featuring vendors, music, activities and cultural displays.
Western Oregon welcomes all alumni back to campus for a weekend celebration that features a host of activities, programs, and sporting events. Students participate week-long with a variety fun-filled, school spirit activities capped with the Homecoming court and crowning of the king and queen.
Downtown businesses in Monmouth and Independence host this Halloween event in which participating businesses in both communities hand out candy to trick-or-treaters. The events begins at the public libraries with crafts and activities for kids of all ages. Children are encouraged to wear costumes as they parade through the facilities and downtown.
Annual Tree Lighting
Each year during the evening of the first Friday in December, Western Oregon University’s campus is the site for the lighting of the tallest holiday tree in Oregon. The giant sequoia in front of Campbell Hall is draped with festive lights and topped with a large star. Enjoy a parade featuring Santa, the singing of carols, and many other holiday traditions.
Santa comes to downtown Independence every year on a train the first Saturday in December to pose for pictures and hand out free gifts to all children. Rain or shine, Santa is always happy to spend time in our community.
Holiday Parade of Lights
The Independence Parade of Lights is a great way to celebrate the holiday season! Bring the entire family on the first Saturday in December to enjoy a “home-grown” parade filled with festively lit floats. The parade traditionally starts at 5 PM and runs from the parking lot at First Baptist Church through downtown. After the parade, enjoy free cocoa while singing carols.
Chamber members are invited to spend the afternoon with food, drinks, and fellowship as the MI Chanber of Commerce & Visitors Center board of directors say thank you for your support of our organization and our community.