Oregon Brewers Festival plans to return to Waterfront Park this summer

The Oregon Brewers Festival will return to Tom McCall Waterfront Park this summer after a two-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Art Larrance, who founded the festival in 1988, said organizers are planning a scaled-down version of the festival this year as big events slowly return amid the pandemic.

This year’s festival will run for three days, July 28-30. Larrance said the festival will be about half the size of a normal year with 40 breweries expected to feature at the event. He said organizers are still determining which breweries will be involved.

“We’re going to be mid-scale, sort of, come back easy,” Larrance said.

The Oregon Brewers Festival is one of the oldest craft beer festivals in the country and Portland’s flagship gathering of craft breweries. Prior to the pandemic, the festival had become one of the largest beer festivals on the West Coast, attracting more than 50,000 attendees each year.

While Larrance doesn’t expect this year’s event to draw nearly that many people, he said he hopes Portlanders would be excited to return to the festival.

Other big events also look set to return to Waterfront Park this summer.

KGW reports that nine major events have received permits to use Waterfront Park. These events include the Shamrock Run, Rose Festival, Oregon Humane Society’s Doggie Dash, LGBTQ Pride Festival, Blues Festival, Big Float, DragonSports Dragon Boat Races, Portland Marathon, and Oregon Brewers Festival.

Larrance said he did not yet know what COVID-19 safety measures the festival would adopt, but said he would follow local and national regulations.

He said he looked to the Portland Timbers’ success last season in welcoming fans to Providence Park as an example of how a large outdoor event can work in the age of COVID-19.

“We believe the city is ready to reopen, but we will follow our governor’s direction,” Larrance said.

Larrance is also planning a small beer festival in February, which he says will be a good indicator of how beer festivals can go in the age of COVID-19, as well as the public sentiment towards participation in beer festivals.

Hillsbrew Fest kicks off February 25-27 at the Wingspan Event Center at Washington County Fairgrounds. The festival will feature 30 independent craft brewers and two cider houses 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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