Vaccinated drinkers looking to celebrate a summer with fewer restrictions by attending a beer festival don’t have many options on the horizon.

But if you have the stamina for a road trip, there is a place.

The Eastern Oregon Beer Festival will go on this year following 2020′s cancellation due to the pandemic. Set up across the Union County Fairgrounds on the outskirts of La Grande, about 260 miles east of Portland, there are a few changes, including a new Aug. 14 date instead of its traditional June calendar slot.

In order to keep the festivities COVID-safe, masks will be available at the entry, organizers are setting up hand sanitizer stations throughout the property and crowd size will be limited inside the beer sample halls. VIP ticket sales are capped at 100, but there is not a limit on general admission at this point. Fortunately, the fairgrounds is just about as open air as you can get, with plenty of picnic tables and strips of lawn to spread out on.

Festival host La Grande Main Street Downtown is still nailing down the list of participating breweries, but you can generally look at this as an opportunity to sample beers from businesses that hail from the dry side of the state and may not make it to the Willamette Valley for events very often, as well as producers from western Idaho. There will also be food vendors and live music outside.

Tickets go on sale Wednesday, May 26. That means you have plenty of time to get your car road trip ready and map out a route with brewery pit stops along the way.

Drinking at the Union County Fairgrounds in La Grande. Photo courtesy of Andi Prewitt.
Drinking at the Union County Fairgrounds in La Grande. Photo courtesy of Andi Prewitt.
A growler and glass vendor at the Eastern Oregon Beer Festival.
A growler and glass vendor at the Eastern Oregon Beer Festival.