I travel to a lot of random stuff in Oregon because my fiancee is addicted to fests. So when the atmospheric inversion socked Eugene into 40-degree temps and impenetrable fog, we skipped town and headed for the sunny coast last weekend. We ended up heading to the Wine, Beer, Seafood, & Music Festival – Confluence 2008 .
First off, let me just say I made a huge mistake and left my camera at home. I realized this when we stumbled upon a giant inflatable Dungeness crab wearing sunglasses as we entered the event.
The fest took place in Gardiner, Oregon — a funky little satellite of Reedsport, propped up on an industrial looking stretch of beach. Gardiner was known as “the White City” because of its history as a company town for the Gardiner Mill Company, which gave free white paint to residents, according to a plaque at the Tsunami Gallery.
My first impressions of the fest were not good. It was in an old high school, it cost $7 to get in, and we appeared to be the youngest people in attendance by half a century.
When we got there on Sunday there were two stages featuring adult contemporary musical weirdness. One room had something going on with a new age couple and a giant harp. The other had a bunch of young guys from Portland — and I’m not going to name them, because I don’t want to dis any bands doing original music. But seriously, if you’ve got solid chops and can sing and you’re under 35 and from Portland, should you really sound like Michael McDonald?
Needless to say, several wine and beer tastings dulled my critical eye and I found plenty of other things to like about the fest, like the food and cheap booze. And who the hell doesn’t love BeBe “Big Hair” Bardot? He wears a top hat, animal prints, snake skin boots and croons to the old ladies “Don’t be afraid, I only look loud.” Classic.
I do have some bad news for Eugene, Oregon’s Mexican food fans. If you like the quesadillas from Canby Asparagus Farmsat the Tuesday farmers market as much as I do, you will be devastated to know how close we were to having them open up a restaurant in Eugene near the 5th Street Public Market. The Canby Asparagus folks wanted the space where the new coffee shop opened up that serves Stumptown Coffee across the street from the Market. But they didn’t get the space so they opened up shop in Milwaukie instead. Our loss (no offense to the coffee shop. I’m sure they’re great, but those quesadillas rule).