Swedish Rotarians get a ‘taste’ of the Gorge

Four Hood River Rotary Club families gave their Swedish peers a “taste of the Gorge” this week.

The eight visitors were treated to baked salmon and a scenic drive to Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood during their four-day stay in Hood River. They also toured two industrial facilities, Duckwall-Pooley Fruit Company and Hood River Distillers, and two small businesses, Hood River Coffee Company and Juanita’s Marketa. On the tourist side, they were ferried to the Discovery Center in The Dalles and the Warm Springs Museum at Kah-Nee-Tah — and then tried their first tacos at the Eliot Glacier Brew Pub in Parkdale.

“We’ve just been having a grand time and it’s been a very busy week,” said Carol York, who also prepared a farewell dinner on Thursday night for the guests and their host families.

“The people of Portland and Hood River have been very hospitable,” said Bo Hennby, who stayed with Michael Schock. “We’ve had a fantastic time here and would like to return someday.”

The Friendship Exchange allowed York and her husband, Pete Fotheringham, to return the hospitality they received while touring Sweden for 10 days in May with nine of their fellow Rotarians from District 5100, including Judy Dutcher of Hood River.

“This program is a real cultural exchange of information — learning and seeing how things are done in different places,” York said.

She and Fotheringham opened their home from Monday through Friday morning to Hans and Sonja Allback. The organizer of the Swedish visit, Yngve Anderberg, stayed with Steve Bickford. Dick and Christie Reed entertained Iven and Cecilia Rambow. Gert and Lena Nilsson were welcomed by Craig and Jean Sheppard.

York said Rotary plans several of the exchanges each year and all members are welcome to participate in the learning experience. During her visit to Sweden, York, the District 1 County Commissioner, asked specifically to learn about the country’s agriculture, forestry and economic development programs. She said most of the timber harvest in that country is done by family foresters using high-tech equipment and not by large companies. In addition, she said family farms are disappearing in place of large corporate growers — the same scenario playing out in America.

She said the Swedish visitors were very impressed with the efficiency of operations at the Gorge businesses and the care workers took with the product. However, she said browsing through downtown Hood River shops proved to be a favorite activity for the local Rotary’s guests.

Prior to arriving in Hood River on Monday, the Swedish group stayed for six days in Hillsboro and the Portland-metro area.

“It’s been a very enjoyable 10 days,” Hans Allback said before his Friday departure. “We already hosted this group in Sweden and we decided at that moment that we could come stay with them here in Hood River.”

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