: In A Landscape

What to Expect at Oregon’s Summer Events

May 25, 2021 (Updated June 22, 2021)
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Editor’s note: Oregon’s COVID-19 restrictions have eased, but businesses may ask you to wear a face cover – bring one along and be patient and kind if asked to wear it. It’s also wildfire season – plan ahead and do your part to prevent wildfires.

Top Things to Know:

  • Do your research (figure out transportation, parking and other logistics)
  • Buy tickets in advance
  • Face coverings are required
  • Physical distancing is expected
  • Practice Take Care Out There principles
  • Be patient, flexible and kind

Lazy days by the river, family picnics, campouts with stargazing and s’mores — summer in Oregon is about finding your bliss and chasing your sunshine-fueled passions. If you find yourself looking to venture out of your personal bubble this season for a mix of relaxation and adventure, it’s important to keep COVID-19 safety guidelines at top of mind. 

Beyond the forest and the river, many beloved summertime traditions are open to visitors this year but will look a bit different with COVID-19 safety protocols still in place. Before you head out the door, it’s important to understand Oregon’s Risk and Safety Framework and the state’s guidance by activity so that you know what to expect. Not all counties have the same level of risk, so guidelines and restrictions vary depending on where you are. Anyone is who is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine is encouraged to do so.

Whether you’re ready to enjoy live music or theater outside or attend a fair or rodeo, here’s a look at what summer events are on tap statewide. 

People walk through a sand labyrinth next to large rocks.
Circles in the Sand, a public art project by Bandon's Denny Dyke, marks a decade in 2021. (Photo by Oregon Coast Visitors Association)

June

Drive-up movies at Sunshine Mill Winery, weekends through summer (The Dalles): Pack the popcorn and treats, and enjoy nostalgic family favorites on the big screen from the private bubble of your own car. 

Oregon Divisional Chainsaw Carving Championship, June 17-20, 2021 (Reedsport): Stop by for the day or buy a four-day pass to see all of the events at this annual tradition, unique to the Southern Oregon Coast. Face coverings are required (and good protection from the sawdust, too) as talented woodcarvers shape logs into animals, totem poles and other fun designs. 

Circles in the Sand, through Aug. 25, 2021 (Bandon): Walk the mesmerizing labyrinths in the sand at Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint, a public art project created by local artist Denny Dyke that began in 2011. The labyrinths are created in accordance with the tide, so check the posted start times and arrive (allowing time for parking) about 20 minutes in advance. The one-way sandy paths allow you to keep 6 feet of physical distance from others — remember to wear your face covering, keep your dog on a leash and be kind to other visitors.

In a Landscape, through summer (various locations): See the 2021 lineup to this year’s outdoor classical music performances by pianist Hunter Noack, who brings his 9-foot Steinway piano into remote natural areas of the state to perform amidst the natural beauty. Noack’s team has refined their processes and physical-distancing protocols to keep everyone safe. Concert locations in 2021 include Wallowa Lake State Park, Smith Rock State Park, Fort Rock State Park, Cottonwood Canyon State Park, Mt. Bachelor and more.  

Congress Yard Projects, throughout summer (Portland): This movement by a collective of Portland artists began in 2020 as a way to re-inhabit their shared cultural space in a time of physical distancing. It was one of the off-site locations for Five Oaks Museums exhibition “This IS Kalapuyan Land.” The project’s new series, “Stepping Out,” invites viewers to explore how we can come together again to make, remake and celebrate our living culture.

A graphic of how Zidell Yards will accommodate social distancing.
The Waterfront Blues Festival moves upriver to The Lot at Zidell Yards in 2021. (Photo courtesy of the Waterfront Blues Festival)

July

Oregon Shakespeare Festival, July 1-Oct. 9, 2021 (Ashland): Oregon’s famed Shakespeare Festival returns for four outdoor performances per week this summer at the Allen Elizabethan Theatre. Tickets ($35) go on sale June 18 for Cheryl West’s “Fannie,” a musical portraying the life of civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hammer, starring E. Faye Butler and Greta Oglesby and directed by Henry Godinez. In addition, the festival’s Weekly Wednesday outdoor concerts at the theatre begin July 21, showing a variety of $15 performances — see the schedule for details, ticket information and attendance protocols.

Waterfront Blues Festival, July 2-5, 2021 (Portland): Rock out to top local, regional and national blues artists a mile upriver from Tom McCall Waterfront Park at a new venue, The Lot at Zidell Yards, with plenty of room to keep physical distance. Visitors can purchase tickets for two-, four- or six-person pods to enjoy the show, or purchase a ticket to join by livestream.

La Pine Rodeo, July 3-4, 2021 (La Pine): The “Greatest Little Rodeo in Oregon” is scheduling a return to the bullpen this summer, with bull riding on July 2 and the Northwest Pro Rodeo Association rodeo on July 3-4. It’s one of numerous rodeos in Oregon (along with Chief Joseph Days Rodeo (July 27–Aug. 1 in Joseph) ready to once again entertain visitors after cancellations in 2020. 

Oregon Country Fair, July 9-11, 2021 (virtual): For the second year in a row, this iconic event will be held virtually. This year’s theme is “Fair in the Clouds,” three days of whimsical performances and demonstrations by a full spectrum of local artists. 

Pendleton Whisky Music Fest, July 10, 2021 (Pendleton): Country artists Toby Keith, Cole Swindell and Clay Walker will headline this lively event that makes the top of many concert-goers’ annual trips. See the website for info on food trucks, on-site camping, a pre-concert party and more.

Oregon Bach Festival, June 25-July 11, 2021 (virtual): The University of Oregon School of Music and Dance has announced a slate of more than 15 virtual events over three weeks, showcasing a range of classical music from the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Tune in to hear Grammy-winning artists, piano concertos and Portland’s weekly chamber group, 45th Parallel Universe.

Feast Flicks, July 29-Aug. 1, 2021 (Portland): The Lot at Zidell Yards in Portland’s South Waterfront becomes a grand outdoor movie setting for a series of classic food-themed films, paired with some of Portland’s top culinary creations. Each night pairs a different food and drink experience inspired by the film, which guests can enjoy from their own seating pod with views of the Tilikum Crossing and the Willamette River. Find tickets at FeastPortland.com starting June 28. The dinner-and-a-movie lineup (in partnership with Hollywood Theatre) includes: Like Water for Chocolate with República(July 29); Eat Drink Man Woman with XLB, Eem and Heyday (July 30); Big Night with Cooperativa, Montelupo Italian Market, Nostrana and Sebastiano’s (July 31); and Ratatouille with Paley’s Place and The Multnomah Athletic Club (Aug. 1).

A hand holds a glass of white wine.
This year the Oregon Wine Experience is a hybrid of virtual and limited in-person events. (Photo by Justin Briggs / Oregon Wine Experience)

August

Seaside Prom Centennial, Aug. 7, 2021 (Seaside): Seaside’s Promenade — the 1.5-mile, paved accessible walkway running through town — turns 100 this year, and the city is hosting a dedication ceremony and parade, as well as other self-guided Prom-centric activities adhering to social distancing and other COVID-19-safe protocols. In addition, all overnight visitors to Seaside through the end of 2021 are eligible to win one of four sweepstakes prize packages (one for each season) in the Great Prom Centennial Sweepstakes. Stop by the Seaside Visitors Bureau to pick up an event booklet and more info.

Scandinavian Festival, Aug. 12-15, 2021 (Junction City): Celebrate 61 years of tradition with live trolls, international dance troupes, costumes, food, stories, cultural craft demonstrations and more.

Theater in the Park, Aug. 20-21, 2021 (Bend): Experience theater for the first time or the 50th at the return of this beloved live event at Drake Park. This year’s production is “Into the Woods,” a 1986 Broadway musical based on classic Grimm Brothers fairy tales. There will be modified seating and other COVID protocols in place to follow state guidelines. 

Oregon Wine Experience, Aug. 23-29, 2021 (Jacksonville): Wine lovers can look forward to this immersive adventure with the opportunity to bid on auction items from home, virtually. Limited in-person events will include an Oregon wine competition; a founders’ barrel auction with exclusive blends by top Oregon winemakers, along with tastings and food pairings; a grand tasting including samples of all 2021 award-winning wines; a dinner with plank-roasted salmon from the Coquille Indian Tribe; and a series of small multicourse vintner dinners hosted by winery owners at local vineyards.

Feast Family Reunions, Aug. 28-29, 2021 (Portland): Fun-loving foodies are invited to The Redd on Salmon Street in Southeast Portland to experience imaginative themes and tasty creations from up to 10 chefs and restaurants, paired with ice cold summer beverage offerings, music and more. There will be two events per day, including a family-friendly Sunday afternoon event. Look for ticket info and more details in July at FeastPortland.com. This and other Feast events in 2021 are benefits for Feed the Mass, a Portland nonprofit that has been providing chef-driven meals to anyone in need since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic with an aim to serve aim to support BIPOC populations, houseless populations, refugees, sick and quarantined individuals, LGBTQIA+, disabled individuals and those who are unemployed or underserved.

Claima Stories: Feast Edition, Aug. 30-Sept. 1, 2021 (Portland): Feast Portland’s last summer event will feature a series of live podcast events featuring several thoughtful BIPOC leaders in Portland’s food and drink community. It will be hosted by Bimma Williams, a rising media star who worked with Kanye West and Childish Gambino at Nike and Adidas before launching Claima Stories — a podcast that showcases inspiring stories of top creative talent of color. Three live podcast and happy hour events will be held in the open-air courtyard at Oregon Contemporary (formerly Disjecta), with drinks and snacks during the conversation. Look for tickets and more details in July at FeastPortland.com.

About The
Author

Jen Anderson
Jen Anderson writes and edits Travel Oregon's e-newsletters, annual Visitor Guide and other editorial content. She loves finding the latest places to eat, drink and play around the state with her husband and two young boys. Brewpubs, beaches and bike trails top the list.