Looking for all the latest events to hit the Eugene area? Then take a look at our Eugene Events Calendar.
We know: another events list. There’s so much going on in and around Eugene that it can all start to go in one ear and out the other. This weekend, most likely you’ll find yourself reaching for a microbrew again, just like the weekend before that, or maybe a toke or few of the area’s finest (check out our guide to the Best and Worst Neighborhoods for Cannabis in Eugene and Bend).
We won’t dispute the joys of these and life’s other simple pleasures, but we’ve nonetheless gone to the effort to compile a list of all the events that will really, actually, truly enrich your life in the coming months of sunnier skies, dwindling rains, and increasing concentrations of tree pollen in the Willamette Valley.
And some of them do involve wine (beer festivals are coming this summer, don’t worry).
Big O International Roller Derby Tournament : May 4 – 6
You read that right: International Roller Derby. Although roller derby occupies something of a fringe in the larger sporting world, it’s certainly taken Eugene by storm, with four local teams vying for supremacy. And Roller Derby is beginning to take over the world too, with 1,250 amateur teams worldwide. Come to the Big O Tournament, where some of the world’s finest women’s, men’s, and junior teams will face off, and you just might become a convert.
So, what is roller derby? The sport involves two opposing teams on roller skates, each trying to stop the other’s “jammer” from scoring laps. Partial contact is allowed and encouraged, so things do get pretty physical.
The sport actually began in the 1930s and quickly gained popularity. But in the decades to come, roller derby faded into spectacle-driven theater, a la the WWF, then into oblivion, overshadowed by various sports involving balls of one sort or another. Grassroots DIY efforts in the new millennium brought roller derby back into the public eye, however. The sport has retained some of its theater, with participants wearing colorful uniforms and adopting unique personas. But the competition is serious, and so is the fun.
The action begins the Morning of May 4 with California Mayhem facing off against Mob City. For tickets and more info, visit the tournament website.
Mother’s Day Winery Celebrations : May 12 + 13
We’re not sure that mothers necessarily love wine more than any of the rest of us. Certainly, the Willamette Valley’s ever-growing assortment of wineries means there’s a lot of love to go around for Eugene residents. In fact, the Willamette Valley was recognized as the 2016 Wine Area of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. But if your own mother does love wine, a winery outing could be the perfect Mother’s Day treat.
Start with “Moms Love Wine” the day before Mother’s Day, May 12 from noon – 6pm at LaVelle Vineyards off the Territorial Highway west of town and north of Elmira. The winery offers fantastic views of Fern Ridge Reservoir just to the east, and on a clear day (the skies ) you can even see the Three Sisters Mountains in the distance. The event offers pop-up shopping with (of course) fine wines, chocolate, and flowers. Oregon Wood Fired Pizza will even bake their own pies, and live music will make the afternoon a special one for both you and mom.
Afterward, on May 12 or May 13 from noon through 5pm, take mom to the Noble Estate Urban Tasting Room for more wine and a soothing spa experience. The winery’s “Spa at the Vineyards” event features foot soaking pools, massage therapists, and make-up tutorials to pair along with Noble Estate’s award-winning wines. The winery itself is located in the countryside southwest of Eugene, but its urban tasting room in the West Eugene neighborhood provides a convenient and lovely indoor and outdoor venue for sampling Noble Estate’s wines. The event is limited to ages 21+.
Finally, travel to the northwest of Eugene to Pfeiffer Winery for a brunch or lunch featuring–you guessed it–plenty of local wine, as well as live jazz and dancing. The food looks pretty spectacular as well. This is a perfect event for families, with a 50% discount for children. Brunch begins at 10:30 and lunch at 1:30. Established in 1983, the Pfeiffer Winery is one of the oldest vineyards in the state and has a reputation for some of the finest Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris around.
Willamette Valley Music Festival : May 19
We don’t mean the Willamette Country Music Festival–that’s coming later this summer. This is just as good though: the Willamette Valley Music Festival or WVMF transforms the entire campus of the University of Oregon into a creative space showcasing the best the Northwest has to offer.
Visual arts will be on prominent display, but music is the main attraction. Acts range from hip-hop (AJ, Mr. Carmack) to “desert Americana” (Sharlet Crooks), synth pop (STRFKR, Small Million), indie rock (The Gooms, The Shifts), electronica (Evergreen, Ghost Naps) and more. Almost all of these bands make the Pacific Northwest their home, so this is a fabulous way to sample the area’s music scene.
Amazingly, all of this is completely free of charge. Just show up at the University the afternoon of the 19th, with music starting at 3 p.m. on two separate stages and continuing well into the night.
Mount Pisgah Arboretum Wildflower and Music Festival : May 20
Spring means wildflowers, and it also means the return of outdoor festivals. So why not combine both into a single package? Mount Pisgah is a must-visit for all Eugene nature lovers, as you will know if you’ve read our 7 Reasons to Love Springtime in Eugene post. But it’s also home to several of the area’s most beloved festivals, also including a Fall Mushroom Festival.
300 to 400 wildflower species will be on display. That’s a lot of flowers. Once you’ve become thoroughly intoxicated by the majesty of the spring, you can top it off with food from numerous area vendors and a full schedule of some of Eugene’s most popular musical acts. Local artisans will display their crafts, and numerous plants will be available for sale to spice up your living quarters.
The event is great for kids too, with nature crafts, facepainting, and microscopes, and nature walks with expert volunteer guides. Be there or be square.
Grapes of Wine Half Marathon : May 20
The Eugene City Marathon happens Sunday, April 29 and is not to be missed whether or not you intend to run. But everyone knows that Eugene is a place for competitive running. So, we’d like to highlight a lesser-known running event, which also happens to be a wine event.
We should note though right out the gate: the marathon and wine-drinking are not occurring simultaneously. Runners won’t run from one winery to another, sampling different wines along the way. But the start point, Noble Estate Winery will offer complimentary wine, while celebratory drinks and other refreshments will certainly be available at the finish line, which happens to be Sweet Cheeks Winery. To make the deal even sweeter, a foot spa and live music will greet finishers.
These and other vineyards and wineries make up Eugene’s Wine Trail, situated in the idyllic countryside southwest of the city limits. Runners should expect some steep terrain, but walkers are more than welcome too. For more info, click here.
David Byrne at the Hult Center : May 28
We’ve largely steered away from including individual musical acts in this guide, but when the legendary frontman of Talking Heads comes to your town, it’s an event, darn it. And according to the man himself, this tour will feature his most artistically ambitious shows since the days of “Stop Making Sense.”
Byrne and his 12-piece band will perform songs from his new album, 2018’s American Utopia, as well as other songs from both his solo career and days with Talking Heads. Indoor shows can be a mixed bag for acoustics, but rest assured that the Hult Center’s Silva Concert hall has fantastic sound. If classical music, ballet, opera, or even taiko ensembles are more your cup of tea, then the Hult Center has you covered throughout the year. Click here for more events.
Oregon Gran Fondo : June 2
No, that’s not a misspelling of “fondue” — our apologies if we had your hopes up. Gran Fondo is Italian for “Big Ride,” and a big ride this will be. Eugene, if you didn’t know, is a place where people ride their bikes. The countryside around Eugene features plenty of great touring terrain, but with 40 mile and 71, 117 and 130 mile routes, this will be cycling at a whole ‘nother level.
The event’s organizers are quick to clarify that a Gran Fondo is not a race but rather “a mass event designed to draw community together” open to all ages and skill levels. Routes begin and finish in Cottage Grove, a small town just south of Eugene, circling west and back along country roads and rural highways. Click here for more information.
Plan to head over the mountains to Bend this Spring? Check out our guide to Upcoming Events You Won’t Want to Miss in Bend for Spring 2018.