BANDON — Bandon is gearing up to host the fourth-annual Gorse Blossom Festival during President’s Day weekend, Feb. 14-16. This is the festival that was voted Oregon’s Best Downtown Special Event in 2017 by the Oregon Main Street Association in its very first run.
Inside the Port of Bandon’s Old Town Marketplace, 250 First St. SW., festival-goers will find three days of beer and wine samples from across the state, tasty bites from local restaurants, live music from the southern Oregon coast’s best bands and some quirky entertainment that they won’t find anywhere else.
Tickets are $10 for a day’s admission and include a commemorative glass to be used for beer and wine sampling. The festival runs from 3-9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 14; 12-9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15; and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16.
The festival kicks off Thursday, Feb. 13, with a free Science Pub from 6-7:30 p.m., hosted at Bandon Brewing Company and Pizzeria, 395 Second St. SE., sponsored by the Gorse Action Group. GAG will detail why “gorse is gross” and speak specifically to efforts and solutions for gorse abatement within Bandon and Coos County. This interactive presentation is open to everyone.
The highlight of the festival continues to be the Bloody Mary Stroll, which kicks off at 10 a.m. Sunday. Tickets remain at $30 and include a 25-ounce commemorative mug, T-shirt, entry into the festival and a massive Bloody Mary made with Stillwagon Distillery vodka and loaded with over-the-top garnishes from Old Town businesses. The stroll sells out each year and tickets must be purchased in advance and online at gorseblossomfest.com.
Old Town Bandon bars and restaurants are also joining the fun. Several will feature dinner specials, and some bars will keep the party going after the festival with drink specials or live music.
“You might be wondering, though, “why are we having a festival celebrating gorse?” said Greater Bandon Association Executive Director Harv Schubothe. “Well, if you don’t know, gorse is a nasty invasive seen throughout our area that is highly flammable, painful to the touch, and nearly impossible to remove. We don’t like it. We would even say we hate it! But, it’s here, it’s part of our heritage, and we often get visitors who know nothing about it.”
Luckily, Bandon has some incredible resources for dealing with this plant, including the Gorse Action Group. They’ll be at the festival along with others providing some not-so-fun facts about the plant, education about what it is and what to do with it, and, most importantly, will teach you how to stop the spreading of it.
“The Gorse Blossom Festival is one of the major events to get heads in our lodging beds during the shoulder season when we have fewer visitors coming to town to shop and stay,” Schubothe said.
Major sponsors for this year’s festival include Wild Rivers Coast Alliance, Cardas Audio, Banner Bank and Bain Insurance. For more information on this year’s event including the winemaker/brewmakers dinners, visit the website at: www.gorseblossomfest.com or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.