The state of Oregon celebrated its 156th birthday on Saturday, complete with birthday cake, historical re-enactors and presents for all.

While Friday was a somber day at the Capitol with the historical resignation of Gov. John Kitzhaber, Saturday was a day for smiles as Oregonians honored their history.

The bash at the Capitol featured fun for the whole family, said Marney Roddick, events coordinator at the state Capitol.

Mel Gregg brought her daughter, Mariam, to celebrate.

Mariam said one of the best parts of the event has been the cake.

“I also liked the covered wagons, especially the very old one,” she said.

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Authentic and replicated covered wagons were be on display at the Capitol steps, provided by the Curtis Heritage Education Center.

Volunteer Sharon Alexander said it’s fun to teach kids about the Oregon Trail and see their reactions to the 170-year-old wagons.

“There is a lot of things to teach the kids, so that is what I do,” Alexander said. “We dress up and the kids get to ask a lot of questions, and we teach them about what you could bring in the wagon.”

Today, they are interacting with kids and seeing how they would take to life on the trail.

“First, we ask them how many would you like to come, and they all raise their hands,” she said. “Then we teach them about thing things they can bring and they figure out what they want.

“We tell them, ‘If it fits in the wagon you can take it, but you have to be practical about what you are taking.'”

The Oregon Old Time Fiddlers celebrated their 50th anniversary with musical performances throughout the day in the Capitol Rotunda.

Guests also had the opportunity to view the original Oregon Constitution was on display from State Archives.

“That is worth going over and seeing,” said Joan Plank, vice chair for the Oregon State Capitol Foundation. “It’s very fragile, and they are taking really good care of it. They want the public to get exposed to that too.”

Doug Neeley, a re-enactor from Oregon city, played the part of Dr. John McLoughlin.

“McLoughlin was known as the ‘Father of Oregon,'” Roddick said. “He was known to be a very imposing and scary character.”

Neeley interpreted history from McLoughlin’s perspective. In addition to McLoughlin’s performance, nine interpreters from the Champoeg State Heritage Area, dressed in traditional clothing and chatted with the guests on historical topics like steam boating, trapping and home medicine.

Mark Hinds, a re-enactor from Champoeg, was portraying a politician from the 1860s.

“I am here talking about some of the events that led up to the Constitution,” Hinds said.

He said he loves teaching these kinds of things to kids.

“It’s so much fun to talk to people and share and get the kids involved. They are fun,” Hinds said. “When you start interesting them at this age, then they are much more likely to be interested later on.”

A musical play was put on by the Jester Educational Theatre of Portland at 12:30 p.m. and “Why I love Oregon,” a winning essay from the Salem-Keizer Schools, was on display for the guests to read.

One of the featured games for children, put on by the Willamette Heritage Center, included collecting stamps at each of the event’s exhibit stations and cashing them in for a piece of land.

Josh Roth, who brought his four kids to the celebration, said they were enjoying the arts and crafts tables.

“They are making little Conestoga wagons right now. That is really cool,” Roth said. “My girls are loving that.”

There were also birthday gift bags, and a birthday cake donated by Fred Meyer.

Other event partners include Walmart, Emmert International, and Salem-Keizer Education Foundation.

Kate Brown, the secretary and of state and soon-to-be governor, and former Oregon Govs. Barbara Roberts and Ted Kulongoski celebrated Oregon’s birthday at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland. Brown, Roberts and Kulongoski were joined by Antoinette Hatfield in marking the 156th anniversary of Oregon’s admission into the union as the 33rd state.

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