OUR VIEW: Excitement grows for festival
June may seem like a long way away, but if you are looking ahead for an event to mark on the calendar then the Eastern Oregon Beer Festival, scheduled for June 21, should surely seem like an obvious choice.
While the actual event is sure to be an interesting element to the early-summer Union County agenda, the fact that the affair is happening in the first place should be lauded.
In a sense, the one-day occasion — where breweries from across the state of Oregon are set to attend, including eight from Eastern Oregon — is a way to showcase the innovative nature of the people who live and work in our region. The event also symbolizes why cultivating a motivated local organization — such as La Grande Main Street, the sponsor — is important.
The eight confirmed breweries from Eastern Oregon include Barley Brown’s and Bull Ridge Brew Pub, both of Baker City, Prodigal Son Brewery of Pendleton, Terminal Gravity of Enterprise, Dragon’s Gate Brewery of Milton-Freewater, Beer Valley Brewing and Tandem Brewing, both of Ontario, and 1188 Brewing of John Day.
“Those are pretty much all the Eastern Oregon breweries,” said Saira Siddiqui, La Grande Main Street coordinator and event organizer. “There will be up to 20 breweries total.”
Festival organizers will announce more breweries as the event nears.
Siddiqui also announced that the band Promised Land will open for the Wasteland Kings the night of the festival. The festival also will feature a food court, and organizers are calling on crafters to sign up for booths. A home brew competition will take place the Friday before the festival, with winners being announced Saturday night.
Modest festivals such as the Eastern Oregon Beer Festival event can — and often do — have a habit of morphing into something larger. And that could bode well for the future. As festivals grow they attract more people from outside the area who do one critical thing — spend their dollars locally.
Siddiqui said she and organizers are excited with how far the event has progressed considering the idea came about just a few months ago.
We are excited, too.
It may seem, at first glance, to be a small affair with little residual impact. That would be overlooking the obvious benefits of creating a solid foundation for something larger in the future. Any time a local community can create an event that attracts business from outside the area — and therefore attracts people to the town — the county wins.
Yes, for now, the festival is a small event. Yet it could be the foundation for a long-term happening that brings in dollars to the local area and showcases our unique and beautiful area.