The SAGE Center, which has been in existence for less than a decade, has lots to boast about these days.
Developed by the Port of Morrow, the SAGE Center — Sustainable AGriculture & Energy — features interactive displays — including a corn planting simulator, a processing sculpture that shows how potatoes go from the farm to table and a virtual hot air balloon ride, which is being updated, that showcases all of Morrow County. It also houses a theater and museum store.
And the word is getting out about the facility. Each year since 2018, the SAGE Center has been included in Oregon Business magazine’s top 100 fan-favorite destinations in Oregon — No. 28 in 2020, 86th in 2019 and 53rd in 2018. Torrie Griggs, the center’s manager, said she’s hoping to break into the top 20 when the 2021 rankings are announced in December.
“This is a wonderful achievement for the SAGE Center, this means that our guests continue to enjoy their experience,” she said. “It is a great opportunity to gain valuable exposure across the state of Oregon and beyond.”
Griggs, who was hired in May 2019 as executive director of the Boardman Chamber of Commerce/Boardman Community Development Association, became more familiar with the SAGE Center because her office is housed there. Prior to reopening the SAGE Center doors after a 13-month closure because of the global pandemic, Griggs said the chamber was approached about overseeing operations of the facility. The chamber board approved a management agreement with the port and Griggs added another title to her resume.
“We all work together to make every guest feel welcomed and safe while they visit our facility,” she said.
Now that the SAGE Center is fully open to the public again — all visitors and staff are required to wear masks regardless of vaccination status — Griggs looks forward to resuming activities and hosting special events. The annual Christmas Light Show was the only event held in 2020.
The next major event is the Morrow County Harvest Festival, which is Saturday, Oct. 2, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Held exclusively outdoors, it features a variety of vendors offering regionally produced agricultural goods and handmade artisan crafts, live music, mule-drawn wagon rides and a Kid’s Corner.
Museum store supports local artisans, products
While at the SAGE Center, don’t forget to shop in the museum store. It showcases many local products and creations, including unique handmade wreaths that are themed for the current season, Griggs said.
Browne House Coffee, based in Heppner, offers a full line of locally roasted coffee in whole bean and ground. Visitors can get a taste of products from Stanfield-based Pat-n-Tam’s Beef. And, Griggs said don’t forget about the Tillamook brand.
“We have a great selection of ice cream to meet everyone’s personal favorite,” she said.
And that’s not all — the port recently announced that plans are underway for an expansion. A 12,500-square-foot Cultural Alliance and Training Center will provide additional venue space for events like jobs fairs and trainings, as well as “women and minority leadership conferences” and “events focused on community inclusiveness.”
“The SAGE Center expansion will provide a beneficial community-based development center to assist our regional education and industry partners with programs and events that support continuing education, workforce initiatives and youth programs,” POM Executive Director Ryan Neal said in an Aug. 19 press release.
The SAGE Center’s hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It’s at 101 Olson Road, Boardman. For more information, call 541-481-7243 or visit www.visitsage.com.