Bend is awash in festivals this time of year, and they can sometimes blend together in a blur of bouncy houses, hand-dipped corndogs, live music, and craft booths.
But there’s something very different about Art in the High Desert.
Well, more than one something. In fact, here are five reasons you want to think seriously about spending the weekend of August 23-25 in Bend to check out Art in the High Desert.
This is no Podunk art show
If you’re picturing a plywood table covered with an array of $2 shell necklaces made in China, think again. This is the real deal for art lovers. Fine Art Fair SourceBook compiles an annual list of more than 600 art festivals in the nation, and according to the guide, Art in the High Desert ranks at #14 for fine art sales. With more than 110 artists from around the country selling paintings, ceramics, fiber art, photography, sculpture, jewelry, furniture, glass, mixed media, print-making, drawings, metalworks, and more, it’s easy to see why so many people are drawn to this event. There’s something for everyone, and few attendees go home empty-handed.
You won’t find a prettier setting
August in Bend is impossibly beautiful, with clear skies, warm temperatures, and gorgeous scenery. While Bend has an awesome array of art galleries, it’s more fun to be outside this time of year. That’s the great thing about Art in the High Desert. You get to stroll along the banks of the Deschutes River, taking in the scenery while you take in the art. The location on the east bank of the Deschutes is smack-dab between Riverbend Park (where you can rent float tubes and plunk yourself in the river) and the Les Schwab Amphitheater (the perfect spot for a riverside picnic!)
Art makes the best souvenir
My living room wall is covered with a large painting I bought in Morocco. One end table is adorned with a vase I bought in Mexico, and the other holds a small sculpture from Venezuela. The rest of my house is decorated with art I acquired in Australia, Jamaica, New Zealand, Italy, Spain, Germany, Fiji, and beyond. Every time my eye lands on a piece, I smile and remember the trip. I tell you this not to sound like a travel snob, but to assure you that of all the souvenirs I’ve brought home from vacation, art is hands-down the most meaningful thing I’ve acquired. I’ve never regretted purchasing artwork when traveling, but I can wistfully describe half-a-dozen pieces I desperately wish I could go back and buy now. Artwork you acquire at Art in the High Desert will be the sort of memento you’ll treasure for years to come. Trust me on this one.
Golf widows unite!
I know there are plenty of female golfers and plenty of men who love art. But at the risk of stereotyping, I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s pretty common this time of year for groups of men to spend full weekends golfing in Bend while their wives shop. We call it the “golf widow” scenario, and while there are plenty of amazing stores and boutiques for shopping in Bend, Art in the High Desert offers an extraordinary opportunity to spend the day browsing vases, jewelry, furniture, scarves, paintings, and so much more. It’s a cornucopia of unique shopping opportunities, and a great way to exercise the credit card.
It’s for a good cause
Did I mention Art in the High Desert is a not-for-profit, community-based endeavor? Money raised by the festival goes back into the festival, gets donated to local arts programs, or into the pockets of artists devoted to creating more art for your enjoyment.
Ready to book your weekend getaway to Bend? Art in the High Desert takes place August 23-25 in the Old Mill District. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the festival is free.
Any questions? Leave ‘em in the comments.
Now go out there and buy some art. You’ll thank me for it later.