The last weekend of July will once again be dedicated to sweaty, all-day drinking in Waterfront Park now that the Oregon Brewers Festival is back on.
Organizers announced that the state’s largest beer fest, which is also one of the longest-running in the nation, will take place July 28-30. That news comes after two years of cancellations due to the ongoing pandemic.
Longtime attendees will notice that OBF is a bit shorter, ending on Saturday rather than getting a full weekend run. But beer drinkers are undoubtedly thrilled to have the fest back in any form at this point.
In 2020, organizers made the call to scrap the event in May, which joined other large gatherings that had already called it, including the Waterfront Blues Fest, the Vancouver Fireworks Spectacular at the Fort Vancouver Historical Site, the Portland Craft Beer Festival and the St. Paul Rodeo.
The following year, they didn’t wait as long to pull the plug: The OBF announcement to cancel a second time came in March. Although vaccines had started to roll out at that point, and hopes for an unbridled summer of activities were high, organizers said they needed months of planning in order to pull off a festival of that size.
OBF started in 1988 after Art Larrance, who sold Cascade Brewing in April 2020 to begin his transition into retirement, attended Oktoberfest in Munich. That inspired him to re-create a tiny slice of drunken Bavaria here by launching the event. In its first year, there were only six breweries in Oregon, but OBF grew, eventually drawing hundreds of participating businesses and tens of thousands of visitors every year.
The same team behind OBF is also putting on a new event this year that’s still scheduled to go forward. The Hillsbrew Fest is scheduled to take place Feb. 25-27 at the Wingspan Event Center located inside the Washington County Fairgrounds.
“After more than 30 years producing craft beer festivals, I can’t wait to get together with the community in Hillsboro and raise a glass to Oregon’s best,” Larrance, the festival’s co-founder, said in a press release. “More than half of the beers at Hillsbrew will be making their debut with us, so attendees will get a chance to try some really unique new craft brews.”
Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test will be required for entry at Hillsbrew Fest. Organizers also say they plan to abide by whatever the state and local mask policies are at the time.
So far, there has not been a decision about capping attendance, but case numbers in and around Washington County will be monitored in order to make a call about limiting tickets closer to the festival.