The Oregon Brewers Festival will be returning to Tom McCall Waterfront Park this summer after two consecutive years on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Art Larrance, who founded the festival in 1988, said organizers are planning a scaled-back version of the festival this year as large events slowly return amid the pandemic.
This year’s festival will be a three-day affair, running from July 28-30. Larrance said the festival will be about half as big as in a normal year with 40 breweries expected to be featured at the event. He said organizers are still determining which breweries will be involved.
“We’re going to be half-scale, kind of take it easy moving back in,” Larrance said.
The Oregon Brewers Festival is one of the nation’s longest-running craft beer festivals and Portland’s signature gathering of craft breweries. Before the pandemic, the festival had grown to become one of the largest beer festivals on the West Coast, attracting over 50,000 attendees annually.
While Larrance doesn’t expect this year’s event to attract anywhere close to that number of people, he said he is hopeful that Portlanders will be excited to return to the festival.
Other large events appear poised to return to Waterfront Park this summer as well.
KGW reports that nine major events have received permits to use Waterfront Park. Those events include, the Shamrock Run, the Rose Festival, the Oregon Humane Society’s Doggie Dash, the LGBTQ Pride Festival, the Blues Festival, the Big Float, DragonSports’ Dragon Boat Races, the Portland Marathon and the Oregon Brewers Festival.
Larrance said he doesn’t yet know what COVID-19 safety measures the festival will adopt, but said it would follow local and state regulations.
He said he has been looking at the success the Portland Timbers had last season welcoming fans back to Providence Park as an example of how a large outdoor event can function in the era of COVID-19.
“We think the city is ready to open back up again, but we will follow the directives from our governor,” Larrance said.
Larrance is also in the process of organizing a smaller beer festival in February, which he said will be a good indicator of how beer festivals can run during the COVID-19 era, as well as the public’s sentiment toward attending beer festivals.
The Hillsbrew Fest will debut from Feb. 25-27 at the Wingspan Event Center at the Washington County Fairgrounds. The festival will feature 30 independent craft brewers and two cideries from across Oregon. The festival will require attendees to show proof of vaccination and wear masks except when eating and drinking.
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