It’s not autumn yet, but you can feel the season already whispering its way into Bend. Kids are back in school. Our nights and mornings are chillier. The crowds that show up to celebrate Bend’s peak summer season have drifted back home, leaving the city a little more mellow.
It’s my favorite time of year.
And it’s clear I’m not alone, if you judge by the plethora of special events commemorating fall in Bend. Here are four of my favorite autumn celebrations in Bend, Oregon.
Oktobercrest at Eagle Crest September 10
Technically not in Bend-proper, this jubilant little fall celebration at Eagle Crest Resort is well worth the 25-minute drive it takes to reach the site from your Bend hotel or vacation rental.
Eagle Crest’s annual Oktobercrest (clever name, eh?!) kicks off its fourth season on Saturday, September 10, 2016 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The event features an impressive array of German food, wine, and local beer. There’s also live music from The Happy Hans Band.
This is an especially family-friendly event, and kids get in free. For grownups, the $10 admission includes a commemorative pint glass and one pour. For more info, check out their website.
Bend Oktoberfest September 16-17
Ever wondered why most Oktoberfest celebrations happen in September? There’s a reason! The first Oktoberfest happened in Germany in 1810 to commemorate the Bavarian crown prince’s wedding in mid-October. When they decided to make it an annual affair, they bumped it earlier to take advantage of nicer weather in September.
That makes sense for Bend, too! Our city’s annual Oktoberfest in downtown Bend is a two-day celebration from September 16-17. It features games, food, beer, cider, live music, and kids’ entertainment like bouncy houses and face painting.
Probably the most popular event is the annual Wiener Dog Races, which will have you in stitches as you watch each gaggle of short-legged, tongue-flopping canines scurry to the finish line. Get there early if you want a good spot for viewing.
My favorite aspect of Bend’s Oktoberfest is something termed “absurd games of skill.” There are prizes for yodeling, tricycle races, a costume contest, and bendhamerschlagen (a race to hammer a nail into a custom table). They’re all hilarious, and you can scope out the schedule right here.
Bend Fall Festival September 30-October 2
Whether you require an extra dose of fall festivity, or you can’t make it for one of the aforementioned celebrations of autumn, the annual Bank of the Cascades Bend Fall Festival is a three-day affair that kicks off on Friday, September 30 in downtown Bend.
It’s similar to the other festivals with its live music, abundant food, and plenty of things to do for kids. But this festival also features a Harvest Market, a Fine Artist Promenade, and a variety of fun competitions like pie baking and a pumpkin carving contest.
You can scope out the full schedule here.
Bend Farmers Market through October 12
I know this isn’t a festival like the other three, but I’m including it because there’s something so . . . festive (for lack of a better word) about the Bend Farmers Market this time of year.
Every Wednesday from May through mid-October, local vendors gather in Bend’s Mirror Pond Plaza above Drake Park to sell local veggies, fruits, jams, flowers, meats, soaps, baked goods, and so much more. There’s live music and much merriment, but the months of September and October have something a little different.
Maybe it’s the brightness of turning leaves and pumpkins propped up on hay bales. Maybe it’s the joy of bundling up in colorful scarves and new boots. Maybe it’s the knowledge that we only have a few weeks left to snag farm fresh goodies in this quaint, friendly market.
But it’s probably all of those things combined that make a September stroll through the Bend Farmers Market the perfect way to usher in the fall season.