From farm to sea to garden, Oregon is an invigorating place to live if you love good, fresh food and drink. Every summer, foodies gather around the state to celebrate the bounty of our cuisine at food festivals. Here are six events worth planning mini road trips around in the summer of 2014:
Oregon brews are that much more delicious when consumed in a beautiful setting. This year, the Grande Ronde Valley is home to the inaugural Eastern Oregon Beer Festival, which will be held June 21 at the Union County Fairgrounds in La Grande. At press time, 16 breweries including Eugene’s Oakshire were confirmed participants. Admission is free, but a $20 pass for a mug and eight tasting tokens is needed to really participate. Learn more about the festival, as well as sober transportation, at eobeerfest.org.
Portland’s food cart scene is famous, and June 21 you can sample some of the best the microeateries have to offer at the Portland Summer Food Cart Festival, home of the third annual East County Food Cart Competition. The gathering, held at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, features carts like A Cajun Life, The Cheese Plate and Retrolicious. It’s all a benefit for nonprofit ALSO (Adult Learning Systems of Oregon), which promotes the full inclusion of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities in their communities. Admission is $10 before May 31, $15 after. Find out more at wkly.ws/1r2.
Maybe the Northwest beer and wine scene just isn’t for you, but saké sounds delicious. Check out the fourth annual Saké Fest PDX June 26 at the Sentinel Hotel in Portland. The event includes food and sake sampling stations plus a mini education on pairing saké with foods from cheese to chocolate to pizza. Admission plus samples is $50. Go to sakefestpdx.com for more info.
It’s the festival that makes you say, “What?” Shady Cove’s 14th annual SPAM Festival is back June 28. This free celebration of the canned, pre-cooked meat gives festivalgoers the chance to try SPAM kabobs and SPAM burgers, all while benefiting local nonprofits like the Shady Cove School’s National Honor Society. Details are at shadycovespamfestival.com.
Garlic lovers, unite: The North Plains Elephant Garlic Festival is back for a 17th year Aug. 8-10. The free festival has a small-town feel and good humor — its slogan is “fun stinks!” — and draws thousands each year with music, food and a parade complete with the Garlic Queen. See funstinks.com.
Feast Portland is a young festival that’s growing fast. Last year more than 10,000 people attended, and in its third year organizers will hold dozens more big events, classes, speakers and tasting panels throughout downtown Portland Sept. 18-21. Net proceeds benefit Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon and Share Our Strength. Find the full 2014 rundown at feastportland.com.