In one of the buildings at the Crook County Fairgrounds, a magical land takes shape every year around the holidays…but humans are a bit too big to fit inside.
The Grimes Christmas Scene displays two whole rooms filled with tables of miniature villages, people, animals, landscapes, and more.
The themes vary between scenes as well- including everything from pirate ships, to barnyards, to Prineville itself.
Beth Grimes has been showing the display every year at the fairgrounds for nine years, but the collection began nearly 75 years before that.
“In 1937 for my husband’s first Christmas, his mother opted to buy a collection of little houses,” Grimes said. “She found them in the Montgomery Ward catalog.
“They were living in the Ochocos in a logging camp, and it was very primitive, there was no electricity, no running water…so it was just a special something she wanted to have for her kids.
“She allowed it to grow very slowly and eventually they moved to town…and so in 1959 when our son was born, their first grandson, she opted to give it to me.”
Grimes said the collection could “fit on a card table” when she received it, but she slowly grew the collection every year.
She originally showed the display in her home in 1984, and eventually in 1992, a Portland news channel ran a story about the display and drew a couple thousand visitors to the house.
After that, various businesses in town pitched in to provide larger spaces for the display until 2012, when the fairgrounds allowed them to set up shop permanently in the old 4-H building.
Now, Grimes welcomes guests every Friday through Sunday from 1 p.m. through 8 p.m. from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas, and takes appointments from visiting groups on other days of the week.
“I tell children that inside this old body, there’s a little girl playing house,” Grimes chuckled.
When asked what she hopes people will take away from the experience, she said, “A memory, tradition, a reason to forget for a little bit, and I hope they come back and bring a friend.”
For more information on how you can donate, volunteer, or visit the Grimes Christmas Scene, visit http://www.grimeschristmasscene.com/index.php.