First tiny homes event will share tips for living large when downsizing

By Katie Gillespie, Columbian Education Reporter



If You Go

What: Tiny House Living Festival.

When: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sept. 15-17.

Where: Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds, 17402 N.E. Delfel Road, Ridgefield.

Cost: $25 for three-day pass, $10 for one-day pass, $9 for seniors and veterans one-day pass and free for children 12 and under. Parking is $6 per vehicle.


The big world of small living is coming to Clark County this weekend, with the first ever Tiny House Living Festival bringing tiny homes and workshops to the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds through Sept. 16.

Technically branded as a Portland event — our neighbor to the south is considered an unofficial tiny Mecca in the tiny house community — the three-day event will celebrate all things small living. The festival will feature homes ranging from a converted school bus named the Ellen DeGenerbus, to a tricked out 1985 Volkswagen Vanagon, to homes that look more like log cabins than elevated trailers. Presenters will lead workshops on creative building, codes and certification, a virtual reality walk through several tiny houses, how to collect and reuse rainwater, and tips and tricks on how to live in a tiny house with children.

“We really like Portland,” said organizer Coles Whalen, who is based in Colorado. “We like the people, we like the area. They’re enthusiastic about not just small space living but intentional living in general.”

And, Whalen added, there’s a home at the show for families of all kinds who are downsizing, whether it’s into 300 square feet or someone going from 2,500 to 1,500 square feet.

“We want everyone to feel welcome wherever they are at with their downsizing journey,” Whalen said.

While tiny houses on wheels remain illegal within Vancouver, smaller dwellings are catching on in the city. The Vancouver City Council recently adopted new rules for accessory dwelling units making it easier for homeowners to build and rent out small homes or apartments on their property. It can be an attractive option for families caring for older or disabled relatives, or for young people looking to save money as they start their careers. Downsizing and minimalist living in general have attracted popularity in recent years as well, with about 7.7 million posts on Instagram containing #minimalism, and Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” spending 142 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

Centralia builder Ron Blair operates REALWOOD Tiny Homes and will show an example home at the show. Blair has been in the recreational vehicle business since the 1970s, but recently dived into tiny, pre-engineered tiny houses. His homes, which have been featured on HGTV’s “Tiny House Hunters,” stack together like Lincoln Logs, locking together into tiny wooden cabins on wheels.

Blair called the Pacific Northwest a “hotbed” for tiny home enthusiasts.

“A lot of the people are minimalists,” Blair said. “They’re very green oriented, they’re conservative, they want to save the planet. They want to do all those things and it’s just been long overdue to have something like this.”

Derek Huegel, owner and founder of Wolf Industries in Battle Ground, recently shifted his contracting business to focus on tiny houses full-time. Huegel’s homes scale a bit larger. His are 10 feet wide rather than the typical 8.5 feet of many tiny homes — the allowed width for towing a trailer without a permit — and have a bedroom on the main floor rather than the lofts that are common mainstays for tiny houses. But Huegel hopes his product will attract a wider audience than some more restrictive models.

“I think it’s terrific,” Huegel said of the Tiny House Living Festival. “Anytime you can get more and more people to walk through and see and feel what the product is, the better off it is.”

Katie Gillespie: 360-735-4517;