Oregon's sesquicentennial sets in motion a series of events dedicated to state's history.

When it comes to Oregon's 150th birthday bash, Southern Oregon history buffs are putting the candles on the cake.

And the Southern Oregon Historical Society is poised to strike the match.

"This is a wonderful chance for people to learn about Oregon and its history," said Terrie Martin, SOHS executive director. "That means all of it. The good, the bad, the everything.

"We will celebrate our history all year long," she added. "Things will pop up across the year that we don't even see coming. But that's the cool thing. We're not doing a one-day shot and forgetting about it."

SOHS is working with Jackson County Library Services, other historical societies and local governments to tell the state's story. Events will focus on all things Oregon: on the history of pioneers settling the state, on early-day agriculture and mining and on Chinese immigrants and American Indians.

"It will be a living, breathing celebration of our state," Martin said.

From Jacksonville to Salem, sesquicentennial events are planned throughout the year. There will be historic reenactments, lectures and celebrations.

Over in historic Jacksonville, sesquicentennial festivities will begin with the Chinese New Year celebration on Feb. 7 and will continue with a variety of events into fall 2010.

At that point the state's 150th anniversary celebration will meld into the sesquicentennial observance for Jacksonville, which incorporated on Oct. 19, 1860.

Even the U.S. Postal Service has caught the sesquicentennial spirit. It will release an Oregon statehood commemorative stamp on Jan. 14 with a special postmark issued in each community with a post office.

The statewide celebration will be led by Oregon 150, a non-profit group created in 2007 by Gov. Ted Kulongoski to prepare the state for the anniversary.

"The sesquicentennial will be a unique opportunity to honor our past and all of the people who created the quilt of natural beauty, urban and rural communities, diverse economy and original thinking that we call Oregon," Kulongoski said.

"The idea is to get people to participate," observed Greg Frederick, an SOHS board member who is helping organize local sesquicentennial events.

"Typically these types of celebrations aren't big tourism events," he said. "There won't be a whole lot of people coming out from Wisconsin to celebrate, for example."

But people throughout the state as well as neighboring states are expected to join in observing the Oregon milestone, noted Frederick, a television film producer whose credits include the award-winning film "Crater Lake — Mirror of Heaven."

Although many planned events have yet to jell, they will include sesquicentennial programs at the Jackson County Fair, which is also celebrating its 150th birthday in 2009, Frederick said. Another big event will be an antique fly-in of old aircraft at the Medford airport, he added.

"One of our goals is to have 150 things to do to celebrate the sesquicentennial," he said. "We are helping coordinate the events locally while showing people the historical society is alive and well."

He was referring to lean times which befell the society after county funding dried up last year.

But SOHS is on the rebound, Frederick and Martin said.

For the sesquicentennial year, SOHS plans to reopen its Jacksonville Museum five days a week and extend hours for the historic Beekman House in Jacksonville, Martin said.

SOHS also plans to open the research library to the public for one Saturday each month, expand activities at its pioneer Hanley Farm in Central Point and reintroduce its popular Southern Oregon Heritage Today magazine on a quarterly basis, she said.

On the actual state's birthday, Feb. 14, more special events are planned, Martin said.

"We are working with all the museums in Jackson County to have free admissions on that day," she said. "We want to open up the history to everyone."

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at pfattig@mailtribune.com.