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Enchanted Forest celebrates 50th anniversary

Sunday was the 50th anniversary of what's become an Oregon treasure. Enchanted Forest welcomed its first visitors five decades ago.

TURNER, Ore. —  
People came to the Enchanted Forest on Sunday, Aug. 8 to celebrate a major anniversary. It began as a theme park that Roger Tofte dreamed up and then built into the hillside along Interstate 5, which opened on this day 50 years ago.

“Well it's quite a milestone, you know we started with just family,” said Tofte as he watched visitors arrive at the entrance of the park.

Enchanted Forest is still a family-run operation, with the 91-year-old Tofte continuing to lead the way, cruising around the park on his scooter, patching things up where it's needed.

The attraction was looking good on Sunday. Humpty Dumpty was refreshed and looking on with a smile.

Taya Campbell was smiling too. She brought her young son to experience the attraction she’s been visiting since she was a kid. Campbell said she loves the feel of the place.

“I'm always a hiker so the nature and then having a little incorporation of having the kids playing here really means a lot to me,” said Campbell.

The past year has been tough on the Enchanted Forest. The arrival of COVID meant the 2020 season started late and was limited.

RELATED: Oregon's Enchanted Forest opens full-time and ready to celebrate 50th anniversary

Then, the Beachie Creek Fire roared nearby. It didn't burn the park, but it took the lives of two family members.

Then this year, February's ice storm did major damage, with trees down and attractions damaged to the tune of nearly a million dollars.

A groundswell of support raised about $800,000 to help the place recover and survive.

No now people like Leah and Peter Rivendell can enjoy an old favorite.

“It's a really special place for me and my husband, we've come here several times to celebrate and have fun in life," said Leah. "And I've been coming since I was 6 years old and I love coming back. It's neat to see new things that I hadn't noticed before.”

The park has grown. There are a few fun rides to enjoy, too. But it is really about being part of the fantasies in the forest that make this place worth celebrating for so many people.

RELATED: 'It was time to ask for help': Enchanted Forest auctioning off memorabilia to cover business losses

Tofte is proud his Enchanted Forest has made it to 50, and happy so many people appreciate it.  He sees no reason why it can't go on another 50 years.

“We dedicated a lot of time and effort to make it as good as we could and we kept adding through the years, and so it brings back a lot of memories for a lot of people, you know they've been here through different generations.”