It’s almost here! The first annual Gorse Blossom Festival is happening next weekend, and Bandon couldn’t be more excited. It’s going to be an epic weekend with local food; local wine, beer, and spirits; live music; games; films; and, if you can stand it, even a little bit of exercise. For those who like to plan ahead to avoid missing any of the fun, here is the detailed schedule.
Despite the annoyance that surrounds gorse, the Gorse Blossom festival will largely be about fun, food, and drink. The revelry begins Friday at 2:00 at the Old Town Marketplace. The Marketplace will be filled with more than 40 booths with representatives from various breweries, ciders, distilleries, and vineyards who will be offering samples in your very own souvenir wine or beer glass. The glass will feature the festival’s logo, an acknowledgement of the various faces of the shrub we love to hate: a sprig of gorse with its pretty yellow blossom is on a tartan background, a nod to its Scottish heritage, and a cheeky drop of blood drips from the end of one of the notoriously sharp spines. Food from various vendors will be also be available for purchase. In addition to these goodies, there will be merchants and interactive activities, including a selfie booth.
Friday will also be the beginning of the Oregon Coast Film Festival in the Port of Bandon Waterfront Shelter. Films from northwest filmmakers and “Best of the Northwest Filmmakers Festival” will be screened. This is a free event and continues Saturday night.
The Marketplace will close at 6, but the action doesn’t stop then. Bandon’s fine Alloro Wine Bar & Restaurant is partnering with Abacela Winery in Roseburg for the Winemaker Dinner at 6:30 at Alloro Wine Bar & Restaurant. Chef Susan will be preparing a four-course meal, each paired with one of Abacela’s wines. It’s sure to be a dining experience like none other!
The Presidential Pub Crawl begins at 8:30 at the Bandon Brewing Company; entry includes special offers, a poster, and fun games and a scavenger hunt at 4 different pubs in Old Town. The crawl ends at The Arcade Tavern.
The Old Town Marketplace re-opens at 10:00 on Saturday. It will be open until 6:00 for a full day of more food, drink, music, and fun. The Oregon Coast Film Festival continues on the waterfront from 4-7.
A tough choice will have to be made for Saturday night’s activity. Two Brewmaker Dinners start at 6:30, one at Billy Smoothboars, and one at The Loft. Billy Smoothboars will be preparing a 4 course meal, each course paired with a unique craft beer from Pelican Brewing from one of our coastal neighbors, Pacific City, OR. Simultaneously, The Loft will be also serving several courses and featuring brews from nearby Gold Beach’s Arch Rock Brewery.
For the entire week of Febrary 12-18, Edgewaters Restaurant will have a special four-course Winemakers Dinner menu for the Gorse Blossom festival in addition to their regular menu. Each course will be paired with an excellent wine from Eugene’s King Estate Winery, served with a view of the Coquille River.
Sunday morning starts with the Bloody Mary Hangover Stroll for a little hair-of-the-dog. A mile or so of strolling begins at the Visitor’s Center at 9:00 and pauses every 50 yards to pick up an ingredient that, by the end of the stroll, will build an “epic” Bloody Mary. The final ingredient will, of course, be locally made vodka at the “finish line” inside the Old Town Marketplace. Ticket price includes a T-shirt, a Gorse Blossom Festival souvenir glass, entrance to Sunday’s festival, and, of course, the Bloody Mary.
Strollers will be back in time for the opening of the 3rd and final day of the festival in the Old Town Marketplace at 10:00 for more local food, drink, merchants, and interactive activities. Don’t forget to hang out outside for a while with your lunch to catch the live music. The festival winds down at 3:00 when we’ll all head home, drink some water, and count the days until next year’s festival.
Along with the fun and games, there is an educational component to the Gorse Blossom Festival. Not much is known about the ubiquitous prickly shrub giving the festival its name; the blossoms are pretty, but it’s hard to see its value beyond that. Invasive, oily, and oh-so-thorny, it contributed to a huge fire in Bandon in the 1930s and is a literal thorn in the sides of Bandon’s residents and leaders. Wednesday, February 15 at 6:00, all will be invited to a public meeting of the Gorse Action Group (GAG) at The Barn Community Center. The group will educate the crowd about gorse, share successes in controlling it in 2016, and discuss plans for 2017. This is a free event!
For more information and to purchase tickets to festival events, see the Gorse Blossom Festival website at http://www.gorseblossomfest.com/home.html
Gorse Blossom Festival
Friday, February 17 at 2-6, Saturday at 10-6, Sunday at 10-3
Old Town Marketplace
250 1st St. SW
Single day tickets: $15 (Sunday’s ticket is included with Bloody Mary Hangover Stroll ticket)
Oregon Coast Film Festival
Friday from 4-7, Saturday from 4-7
Port of Bandon Waterfront Shelter
On the riverfront between Alabama and Baltimore Avenues SE in Old Town
This is a free event!
Presidential Pub Crawl
Begins at Bandon Brewing Company
395 1st St. SW
Brewmaker Dinner: Billy Smoothboars
Billy Smoothboars Restaurant
3030 Oregon Ave SW
Brewmaker Dinner: The Loft
The Loft Restaurant
315 1st St SE
Bloody Mary Hangover Stroll
Begins at Bandon Visitor Center
250 1st St SW
Tickets: $20 (includes Sunday entry into Gorse Blossom Festival)