Antonio A. Fazio was born in 1903 in a small village in the mountainous reign of Italy. This city was Casanova, just North of the coastal city of Varazze, and West of Genova. He left his home and country with the thought of possibly never to see his family again. Being 13 years old, with 11 dollars in his pocket, Antonio left his home in Italy and sailed to the United States in search of a better life. He shared, "There wasn't a lot of food and I couldn't get enough to eat. That is why I left."
The Molinari family sponsored young Antonio to come over to the U.S. He stayed in their home and worked for several years on their family farm until he was drafted into World War I. He trained at Fort Lewis, WA, but fortunately the war ended before Antonio was called to serve. Antonio than returned to Portland, OR and began to organize a farming partnership with 17 other Italian immigrants, including his brother Andrew and cousin George Fazio, whom he had sent for in Italy to come join him in the U.S.
It didn't take long, (just a couple of years) for the arms to start flailing and disagreements to arouse, leading to the end of the partnership. However in order for everyone to feel good about splitting up the partnership assets they decided to wind an alarm clock, set for 5 minutes and let bidding begin.
The person with the last bid when the alarm clock's bell rang would become the new owner. Once the bell went off the new owner became Mr. Rizzo, who ended up buying out all the others, including Antonio.
Columbia Pickling Packing Co. during the flood in the 40's
Columbia Pickling Packing Co.
After the split from the 17 farmers, Mr. Rizzo went into partnership with Antonio, Andrew, and their cousin George Fazio. The four were partners until 1952 when Mr. Rizzo's drinking became a problem with his share of production. Rizzo sold out his portion to the three Fazio's.
Once Mr. Rizzo was gone, Antonio was left with cucumber crops and didn't know what to do with the bins he couldn't sell. The farm cook told him, "Antonio! Why don't you make pickles?" Antonio replied, "I don't know anything about that", so the cook offered to show teach him. Pretty soon the pickles were selling out all over town and the three partners; Antonio, George, and Andrew decided to create Columbia Pickling Packing Co. around the year of 1920. During WW II the Fazio's sold most of their pickles and sauerkraut to the soldiers.
In 1956 Columbia Pickling Packing Co. came to an end when Antonio Fazio passed away leaving his Brother Andrew and cousin George to run the business. The two cousins split after selling out to Nalley's in '56.
Tony "Papa" Fazio : 1929 - 2015
He was born in 1929 in Portland, OR to a large Italian Family being one out of 5 children. He said, "There are only two things in life I love, my family and farming." After his fathers passing when he was just 23 years old he took over the farm with one of his brothers and only sister. In 1992 the two brothers bought their sister out and split the farm down the middle. Tony kept the original name 'Fazio Farms' and continued growing cucumbers, dill, and blueberries with his son Anthony.
Tony (Papa Fazio) helped his son out on the farm in 2015
When Anthony started the Corn Maze in 2010 Papa Fazio wasn't sure what his role was, until we needed a tractor hayride driver, and boy was his excited. He loved to get the kids singing before taking off, and he was the only one who could! He'd get everyone singing so loud that people could hear them from the parking lot. On his famous tractor ride He would talk about the history of his family, pickles, and the corn maze.
Even though He was stubborn with the sweetest smile and biggest heart he never quit doing anything. Up to his leaving He was still loading trucks, plowing the fields, working on machines, mowing the grass and much more . . . he was truly everywhere and still is. Papa Fazio will forever be missed, but will always be with us, and even though He may not be driving the tractor in the years to come, we know he's still screaming out his famous "HAYRIDE!" in his lil high pitch voice and walking among the crowd, he will always be known as the 'Pickle Man'.
The Creator Behind the Corn Maze
Anthony started to transition into taking over the farm in 1984, with continuous help from his father Tony "Papa" . He decided to stop growing potato's and focus on pickling cucumbers, dill and blueberries.
In 1995 he decided to start marketing his father's pickle recipe from when Tony had Columbia Pickling Co. They have become the best homemade raw pickles around.
In 2010 Anthony decided to start the Corn Maze. He said, "why gorw a corn maze on Sauvie Island when I can bring the corn maze to everyone in Portland". Fazio Farms Corn Maze is the only corn maze within the city limits of Portland at around 8 acres.