Summer is the time when Eugene literally shines.
People throughout the Pacific Northwest (west of the Cascades anyway) like to complain about the rain. But from late June through late September, there simply isn’t any rain to complain about.
Okay, there’s a shower or two every couple weeks, and that’s good news for your garden. But with temperatures soaring into the 80s and 90s, you’re going to want to head to head down to the Willamette River, or into your local brewpub for a cold one.
You may also want to check out the following events, many of which showcase the very best of Eugene’s laid-back summer vibes. There’s also some strenuous athletic competition and inspiring performance if that’s what you’re into.
(Really, any time is a good time to be in Eugene. We can give you a few more reasons why moving to Eugene might be a good idea.)
Eugene Beer Week : June 4-10
Okay, so summer doesn’t technically begin until Solstice on the 21st. But we think there’s no better way to launch into the season than with a week of beer tastings, demonstrations, concerts and other events at some of Eugene’s finest breweries and brewpubs.
Beer Week is a celebration of craft beer, of the incredible boundary of beer-y delights available in the Willamette Valley. All week long, Tap & Growler will host triple IPA blind taste-offs, while 16 Tons Taphouse will host its Hazy IPA Fest, kicking things off with the Eugene Ale Trail Anniversary Party on the 4th. And visit any Falling Sky location for a free commemorative Beer Week glass! On Wednesday the 7th, locations will begin hosting one-night events, ramping up a gleeful climax the evening of the 10th.
Sturdy Dirty Enduro Race : June 6
Mountain Bike Oregon : July 20-22 ; August 17-19
Cascade Cream Puff : August 4
There are a number of reasons that Eugene is known as Track Town USA, but the heart of the matter is that people here love to run. What you may not know is that the Eugene region is also home to some of the finest mountain biking available anywhere in the world. Oakridge, a small town to the southeast of Eugene, is one of only 7 centers worldwide to be designated a gold-level ride center by the International Mountain Biking Association.
So for many, summer in Eugene means prime mountain biking season. If you’re a more-is-better kind of person–more sweat, more miles, more hours–then these events may be just the thing for you.
Sturdy Dirty is the world’s first women’s Enduro race series, and its Oakridge leg features 15-20 miles of speedy singletrack. Riders of all skill levels are welcome, with Pro, Expert, Sport Racer, and Beginner Racer categories.
Mountain Bike Oregon bills itself as “A Three-Day Mt. Biker’s Dream Vacation” on hundreds of miles of some of the world’s best singletrack. The biking will be intense–this is not a festival for beginning riders–but all will be in good fun, with food, beverages, and mechanical assistance included in the package. It’s a ride so nice, they’ve scheduled it twice: if July’s festival leaves you hungering for more, sign up again for August!
You probably have a hunch already that there’s more to the Cascade Cream Puff than the unassuming title might imply. And you’d be absolutely correct: as the event’s website puts it, “This ain’t your Gramma’s Sunday roll!” Instead, expect 100 miles of intense singletrack for the full Cream Puff, or opt for the 50 mile Fritter or 25 mile Donut Hole. Whichever you choose, you’re in for hairraising alpine riding on the trails around Oakridge.
2nd Star Festival & Goblin Market : June 16-17
With so many festivals crowding your summer calendar, they may all start to bleed into one another. But rest assured that this one is unlike any other. The Star Festival bills itself as a celebration of all things creative.
Thematically, expect the steampunk motif to dominate the fashion, Goblin Market wares, and music. What is steampunk, you ask? Imagine an alternate universe in which all manner of steam-powered technologies merge with a Victorian-cum 1970s punk fashion sensibility. Still can’t make much sense of steampunk? Then check out the on-premises Steampunk Museum. The (steam-powered) magic happens at Springfield’s Dorris Ranch.
Summer Solstice Concert at Sweet Cheeks Winery : June 21
Beer gets a lot of press in the Eugene area, and for good reason: it’s home to some of the country’s finest microbreweries. But the Willamette Valley, which stretches to the north and south of Eugene, is also home to some of the country’s finest wineries. Summer, of course, is prime wine touring season. Why head to California when there’s so many grapes to be found in your backyard?
Kick off wine season with this event at Sweet Cheeks Winery, one of the area’s most distinctive. It’s located in the beautiful Lorane Valley just south of the city. Local acts The Talbott Brothers, High Step Society and Norma Fraser will headline. And if that isn’t enough to get you excited, let us not neglect to add that Oregon Wood Fired Pizza will be on hand for some irresistible pizza-wine pairings. Purchase tickets here beforehand.
Oregon Bach Festival : June 29 – July 17
In terms of Eugene festivals, it doesn’t get much more venerable than the Oregon Bach Festival. The event first launched in 1970, and since then it’s gained a reputation as one of the nation’s premier destinations for classical music lovers.
Bach’s works feature heavily, of course, but also more modern works inspired by the legendary composer. Past performers have included Yo Yo Ma, Pink Martini, and Joshua Bell. The Bach Festival isn’t just concerts either: it features workshops, presentations, family programming and community events at a variety of venues. Go to the OBF website for more info.
Dead and Company 2018 Tour : June 30
The Grateful Dead live on in Eugene in more ways than one. Cover bands, radio hours, and Deadhead tee-shirts abound, but this summer the Dead will return in a more literal manner.
Not guitarist Jerry Garcia, who is actually dead. Guitarist Bob Weir, and drummers Mickey Hart Bill Kruetzmann will be at Autzen Stadium June 30, however, along with their new band. That new band includes John Mayer–you know, the John Mayer. Seriously, this is going to be an epic concert. Grab tickets while you still can.
Art and the Vineyard Festival : July 6-8
Art, wine, music, food and fireworks at Eugene’s largest city park: how could you pass that up? The fireworks, naturally, will alight the night of July 4 over the Willamette River. The Freedom Festival kicks off at 4 p.m. that day at Alton Baker Park, with an International food court and live bands. The Janis Joplin Grace Slick Rock Tribute headlines the evening’s music.
Return the 6 through the 8th and you’ll have access to the Artist Marketplace and Art for Your Garden, perfect for adding an artistic flare to your summer garden. The Pettybreakers, a Tom Petty tribute band, headline the evening of the 6th, while Satisfaction, a Rolling Stones tribute band, headlines the evening of the 7th.
Oregon Country Fair : July 13-15
This is it, the one summer event not to be missed if you’re anywhere near the vicinity of Eugene the weekend of the 13th through 15th. Eugene’s credentials as a countercultural center are well-established, but at no point of the year is this more obvious than during Fair Time.
The OCF started way back in 1969 as the Oregon Renaissance Fair, and attendees were urged to “come in costume.” While the name has changed, the costumes have stayed, and they’ve become more and more outrageous over the years. Notably, in 1972 and 1982 the Fair hosted concerts headlined by the Grateful Dead referred to as “Field Trips.”
Nowadays, fair organizers have made efforts toward making it a drug-free event, and with 22 stages featuring all manner of performances, from vaudeville and juggling to theater and comedy, there’s plenty to entertain the whole family. Put on your costume, take the city bus to the OCF site outside Veneta, just west of town, and let yourself fall through the looking glass and into a realm beyond your wildest imagination. Be sure to purchase tickets beforehand.
Bohemia Mining Days : July 19-21
The town of Cottage Grove, just south of Eugene, has been celebrating Bohemia Mining Days for almost sixty years now. There’s a reason that the festival has withstood the test of time: originally a celebration of Oregon’s Centennial in 1959, the event combines living history with live music, a carnival, and other entertainment. And admission is completely free.
B.M.D. is foremost a celebration of the area’s mining and Victorian-era heritage. That means gold panning, a historical treasure hunt, living history talks and demonstrations, and most excitingly, Cottage Grove’s Annual Slabtown vs Lemati Feud.
The feud began way back in the 1890s, with the Slabtowners west of the Coast Fork of the Willamette River facing off against the Lematians to the east of the river. This isn’t one of those violent country feuds that seem to get all the press–it’s all in good fun, with tug-o-war, cherry pit spittin’ and pie eating contests.
We’ve hardly scratched the surface of all that’s available: go to the Bohemia Mining Days home page for more info and inspiration.
Blackberry Jam Festival : July 27-29
Another July weekend, another Festival–this time, the fun takes place in Lowell, a little town to the southeast of Eugene located just off the Dexter Reservoir. It seems safe to say that there will be blackberry jam to be had somewhere on the festival grounds. It’s really more about the spirit of rural American summer though than celebrating jams or berries.
In addition to food and live music, this event will have a greased pole climb, fishing derby, quilt show, parade, horseshoe tournament, 5k dash, pie eating contest, and more to take your heart back to a simpler time. All proceeds from the festival benefit local schools and nonprofits.
Scandinavian Festival : August 9-12
You may be noticing a strong theme emerging here: the rural areas around Eugene all like to put on their summer best and throw a big party, and Junction City north of Eugene is no exception. Here, the theme is all things Scandanavian, and visitors will need to be on the lookout for the many trolls and vikings that emerge to wander the streets of Junction City, playing pranks and causing trouble.
The Scandinavian theme also means folk dancing, unique arts, crafts, and food, demonstrations, and perhaps a corset or few. Each day features a separate Scandinavian nation: Thursday is Norwegian Day, Friday Swedish Day, Saturday Danish Day, and Sunday Finnish Day. Admission is free.