Martha Biederbeck moved to Lebanon in 1960 with her husband, Army veteran Bernhard Biederbeck.

Immigrants from Germany, they lived briefly in Minnesota before hearing from a friend about how wonderful it was in Oregon. After making the move, they found their new home lived up to expectations and they have lived here since, with Bernhard Biederbeck now residing at the Edward C. Allworth Veterans Home.

On Wednesday, May 9, the Biederbecks were among those in attendance at the Military Spouse Appreciation event hosted by the veterans home. Among the special guests were this year’s Strawberry Festival Princesses: Paige Burroughs, Taylor Darwood, Courtney Foster, Isabella Miller and Kinsey Morse.

The members of the court for this 109th edition of the festival took turns briefly introducing themselves and then chatted with the veterans, their spouses and families. They listened as veterans and their families talked about their military experiences and about their lives today.

The Biederbecks were happy to share part of their story with Princess Courtney. Bernhard Biederbeck immigrated to the United States first and soon after his arrival he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He was assigned to serve as a driver back in his birth country and it was during this time, in 1958, that he and Martha were married.

She said their plan all along was for him to go to the United States first and see if he liked it here. He did and when his assignment was concluded they came to America together.

She has fond memories of the Lebanon Strawberry Festivals of the early 1960s. She remembers when the festival carnival used to be held on the site of what is now the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Greater Santiam.

“We didn’t have to worry about our kids. They could just enjoy themselves,” Martha remembered of those past festivals. “You weren’t nervous about letting them have fun.”

Karen Grant attended the luncheon with her father, U.S. Navy veteran Ed Lafayette, and her mother, Barbara Lafayette.

Their family has a much longer history in this area, arriving in 1852 after traveling over the Oregon Trail. Ed and Barbary Lafayette have lived on their homestead near Brownsville since 1951.

Ed Lafayette moved into the veterans’ home almost two years ago and Grant is thankful it is here.

“It’s the best. It’s fabulous to have something like this in this community,” Grant said.

Throughout the luncheon, the princesses posed for photographs with the veterans their families. The children in attendance seemed to especially enjoy the opportunity to pose with members of the court.

Lebanon pianist Ray Hendricks provided music for the event, playing classic songs from the 1920s, 30s and 40s. An American-flag themed cake topped with strawberries and blueberries was served as dessert.

After the event, the princesses walked throughout the 11 houses which make up the four neighborhoods of the 154-bed facility. They stayed for several hours as they checked in on dozens of veterans.

Andrea Bruce, the court coordinator for the Lebanon Strawberry Festival said this is the third year in a row the princesses have visited the veterans’ home in the days leading up the annual event.

“This is one of my favorite events,” Bruce said.

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