Uptown on First Street
The old timber town of Oakridge, scenically nestled in the Cascade Mountains foothills forty miles southeast of Eugene and home to about 3,200 people, suffered significantly when its mills closed in the 1980s. But such a beautiful location imbued with people dedicated to the health of their community can hardly be held down, and since those difficult days, Oakridge has undergone a steady, splendid revitalization—and one that’s easy to miss if you simply pass through town on Highway 58.
Oakridge Keg & Cask Festival – Top USA Festivals Photo Gallery
Instead, discover the wonderful Uptown district: turn north off the highway on Crestview, then turn right on East First Street. Now you’ve reached the beautifully renovated old downtown, and there’s no better time to visit that during the mid-August Oakridge Keg & Cask Festival, when East First is closed down to accommodate vendors, including a variety of regional breweries, along with wineries, cideries, and even distilleries, as well as food, crafts, and live music. Indeed, Uptown Oakridge is home to an all-cask brewery, Brewers Union Local 180, and Deep Woods Distillery, both located on First Street.
During this pleasantly congenial summertime festival, attendees wander the street, strolling among the vendors, trying new beers, and striking up conversations with complete strangers. It’s a small-town vibe, a celebration of the rejuvenation of Oakridge, layered with Northwest craft beer culture that is equally at home in a diminutive mountain town as it is in the hip districts of Portland. Keg & Cask occupies a Saturday from midafternoon well
Historic Downtown Oakridge is the perfect setting for the laid-back, under-the-radar Keg & Cask Festival into the night, with regional bands providing live music throughout. The festival is free, with the single exception of a nominal entrance fee for the beer gardens that includes four tasting tickets (additional tastes may be purchased) and a logo tasting glass—brew-fest glass collectors can hardly consider the collection complete without this coveted addition. Proceeds from the festival benefit several local nonprofits.
Gateway to all kinds of outdoor recreational opportunities—mountain biking, hiking, fishing, and more—Oakridge (and nearby Westfir) offer several lodging options, and the Willamette National Forest, which literally surrounds the town, offers numerous campgrounds within easy reach.
For all details about Oakridge, consult the Oakridge-Westfir Chamber of Commerce, www.oakridgechamber.com, and the city of Oakridge, www. ci.oakridge.or.us.
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