Bend is a pretty spectacular place to be any time of year, but there’s something extra-special about Memorial Day Weekend. Maybe it’s that we’re all shifting our gazes to summer, or perhaps it’s the energy from all the out-of-towners flocking here for a long weekend. Or maybe it’s just that there’s so freakin’ much to do. Here are 8 awesome happenings lined up for you between May 23-31 2014:
Jam with The National at Les Schwab Amphitheater (May 23)
Every year I get giddy about the kickoff of Bend concert season at the Les Schwab Amphitheater. This season’s first show takes place Friday evening, May 23, with The National promising a moody blend of indie folk rock. Opening for The National are the Tune Yards. Gates open at 5 p.m. and the music starts at 6:30. If our weather holds out, it looks like it’ll be a rain-free evening with warmer temps in the day. Things cool off quickly at night in Bend, so be sure to dress in layers and bring a blanket or someone warm to snuggle. Low-backed sand chairs are allowed for this show, and there’s a ton of great food and beverages sold inside the venue. Ticket prices range from $39 to $40 and you can purchase them at the gate or right here.
Kick off Central Oregon Beer Week (May 23-31)
Bend’s first big beer fest of the season kicks off Memorial Day Weekend, and it’s a doozy. This year’s Central Oregon Beer Week spans May 23-31, and offers a nine full days of events guaranteed to leave any beer connoisseur drooling. Um, in a good way.
You’ll find a complete calendar here, including fun stuff like growler fill specials, barbecues, live music, karaoke contests, beer education, and more. There’s even an ice cream truck cruising around with beer-themed flavors to enjoy. Bottoms up!
Catch a ballgame at the Bend Elks Youth Baseball Tournament (May 25-27)
Since 2005, the Bend Elks (our local baseball team) have hosted one of the Northwest’s biggest youth baseball tournaments. Even if you’re not the world’s greatest fan of the sport, it’s hard not to be impressed by the backdrop of the Cascade Mountains and the sheer volume of high school athletes journeying here to play their young hearts out. If you’re just showing up to watch, you’ll be happy to know there’s no gate fee. Catch a game or two, eat a hot dog, and feel happy knowing proceeds from team entry fees help support youth baseball in Bend. You can find details and game schedules here.
Happy Girl Half-Marathon, 10k, 5k, and Happy Little Kids’ Run (May 24-25)
Grab your girlfriends and get running! The scenic route starts along the Deschutes River, and includes a mix of gentle trails and paved surfaces. Women will be spoiled with a great goody bag and a fun pre-race expo, plus on-course support (including handsome pacers). Finishers get a cool custom necklace instead of a medal. The expo is Saturday, and the run is Sunday, and you won’t want to miss either. For details and registration, visit the event website.
Opening day for the Saturday Market (May 24-25)
Kick off the 2013 season of the Central Oregon Saturday Market across the street from the Deschutes Public Library. Browse handcrafted jewelry, artwork, clothing, household goods, and more. Normally, this is a Saturday-only event (as you might’ve guessed from the name) but for Memorial Weekend they’re open both Saturday and Sunday. This is always a great spot to grab gifts to take home to friends and family, so bring an extra shopping bag.
Finale weekend at Mt. Bachelor (May 24-25)
I’m not even a skier, and I’m heading up to Mt. Bachelor for their final weekend of the season. This is the place to be if you’re looking to kiss winter goodbye with the ultimate panache. Check out the North American Pond Skimming Championship on Sunday, or enjoy live music and a cold one (or eight) at the annual Brewski celebration of Bend’s craft beer. There’s still plenty of snow for skiing and boarding, so this is your chance to carve a few final turns this season.
Time to break out that fishing rod (May 24)
Bend is known around the country as a mecca, with Fly Fisherman magazine naming the city one of the top fly fishing towns in the nation. Trout season opens on May 24 this year, clearing the way for you to fish lakes and rivers throughout the area. To celebrate, Confluence Fly Shop is having a Trout Season Kickoff Party May 23, complete with discounts, giveaways, beer, and more. You’ll find details here.
Two great bike races for the cycling crowd (May 24 & 25)
Road cyclists rejoice on Saturday in the fast and furious Bend Don’t Break circuit course bike race. A beginner’s clinic that morning gives newbies a chance to prepare, or race hard in the more elite categories. The race is part of the 2013 Oregon Women’s Prestige Series, though there are plenty of men’s categories as well. It’s also part of the Oregon Senior Games this year, so folks in the 50+ category have a chance to vie for a spot in the National Senior Games.
On Sunday, head west to Sisters with your mountain bike strapped to your car, and get ready for the Sisters Stampede. This uniquely-Sisters event lets you race your bike on the beautiful Peterson Ridge Trail in Sisters. Now in its fifth year, this is Oregon’s largest cross country mountain bike race, with 23 different race categories, and a party at the finish line. Each racer gets a goody bag filled with cool schwag, and there’s $1000 in cash prizes up for grabs for the top three men and women in the Pro or Cat 1 categories. For event details and registration, go here. Believe it or not, that’s only a sampling of events happening in and around Bend this weekend. For a complete list, check out the Visit Bend Event Calendar. You can search for cool happenings this weekend or any other weekend you plan to Visit Bend.