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Festival of Eugene Celebrates its Second Year

Photo credit: David Putzier; pixelscaper.com

Get ready for Festival of Eugene 2.0 — this year’s celebration of all things Eugene, with music, poetry, food, vendors, a pet parade and more, is bigger and better than ever before, says Krysta Albert, the event’s producer. 

Granted, Festival of Eugene is only in its second year, but Albert says she and her planning committee had a whole year this time to work out the details.

“Last year, we had a limited amount of time to put it all together,” she says. “It was insanity. There were many last-minute venue changes, so this year we’ve had a very different experience.”

The Festival of Eugene, running Aug. 21-23 at Skinner Butte Park, started in 2014 after Kesey Enterprises unexpectedly announced it had canceled the Eugene Celebration, an annual event in Eugene since 1983.

“There was a tremendous amount of disappointment within the community when it was canceled,” says Albert, who also runs Imagine! Weddings and Events. 

The first Festival of Eugene was a scramble — Kesey Enterprises canceled the Eugene Celebration in June, so Albert only had two months to pull together her August event. The 2015 Festival of Eugene, she says, is “the same concept, but doubled if not tripled in scope.”

Through donations and co-sponsorships, the festival has raised $17,950, according to its website. With two family-friendly beer gardens, two food courts, a kid zone, three performer stages and 173 vendors, the festival features all local talent, including bands El Flowious, Cowboy Cadillac and Soul Vibrator, as well as food vendors The Divine Cupcake, WildCraft Cider Works and Lani Moku Grill.

On the poetry stage, local performance poet C. Steven Blue says he’ll bring together a diverse group of local wordsmiths, including published literary poets, performance and slam poets as well as youth poets. Blue says the poetry stage has a shade tent this year, and he encourages festival-goers to “come see a wonderful diversity of spoken-word readers and performers, with some spontaneous improvisation.”

Albert says that although the Festival of Eugene was created after the cancellation of the Eugene Celebration, the two events’ mission statements and goals differ. “Our event is not for profit, and theirs was a for-profit venture,” she says. “I’ve had people say to me that they really feel as though what we’re doing now is in the spirit of what the Eugene Celebration was 20 years ago.”

When heading out for the festival, Albert advises carpooling or riding bikes, since parking is limited. “Bring a lawn chair if you’ve got one,” she says, “and come prepared to have fun.”

The second annual Festival of Eugene runs Aug. 21-23, 4 to 10 pm Friday, 11 am to 10 pm Saturday and 11 am to 7 pm Sunday at Skinner Butte Park. See festivalofeugene.com for more info or to donate.