A Flurry of Fun - Ashland is Base Camp - Winter '24 Issue

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Events that Put Southern Oregon on the Map

Shining the Spotlight on Southern Oregon

Events that put Southern Oregon on the map (Part 3 of 4)

Story by Valerie Coulman

Alongside the stellar businesses and natural attractions of Southern Oregon are a great variety of events that showcase the diverse talents and interests of the region in equally unique and memorable venues.

Britt Music & Arts Festival is known for both the excellence of the performances they host and for the natural hillside setting itself. “There are a lot of things that make Britt special, including the variety of music, the community that supports us, the educational programs we offer, etc.,” says Sara King Cole, Marketing Director for Britt. “The most unique aspect, however, is the Britt hill itself. No matter what kind of music you love, there’s something very special about sitting on that beautiful hillside, enjoying great music, great company and scenic views.” Britt’s mission is not only to provide a great experience, but also to educate and sustain artistic expression. To that end they also offer a variety of programs from three-day classes to year-long exploration programs for all ages and stages.

Oregon Wine Experience, now in its 13th year, is a remarkable collaboration, says Susan Mendenhall, Manager Annual Giving and Children’s Miracle Network for Asante Foundation, offering a full week of events, including wine tasting classes, vintner dinners, auctions, a salmon bake and more that benefit both the wine producers of Southern Oregon and the Umpqua region to the local community.

“The vision, when it first started 13 years ago as the World of Wine, was to create a destination event that brought awareness to the Southern Oregon Wine Industry as well as culinary, lodging, hospitality and outdoor adventures,” says Mendenhall. They have succeeded, bringing together over 1100 guests and 55 vintners at last year’s event to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network, and anticipating even more this year.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) has been part of Southern Oregon’s event series for over 80 years, and continues to draw approximately 400,000 people to the area each year, says Amy Richard, Media and Communications Manager for OSF. “OSF stages great art,” says Richard. “People may not like all 11 offerings offered each season, but they usually find a play they like, and often more than one play that they really love. And if a person has a big “Wow!” experience, a new relationship starts to form with the theatre and the work, and suddenly you’re hooked.” Richard herself understands that experience after covering various productions at OSF during her time as the Arts & Entertainment Editor for the Ashland Daily Tidings. ”I was totally blown away by the level of artistry and professionalism at OSF,” she recalls.

She’s not the only one. “About 15 percent of our ticket buyers are from the Rogue Valley,” says Richard, who notes that people regularly make OSF productions a destination event, and sometimes even relocate or retire here to volunteer with OSF. One woman from Eugene wrote, We’ve been attending plays for 43 years. When we see on an early schedule of coming OSF plays that a production is described “TBA”, we say, ‘What the heck. OSF productions are the best. Let’s get tickets!’

The Jackson County Fairgrounds & EXPO also see people (and animals) come from all over to be part of hundreds of different events each year. While The Expo presents five major events—the county fair and rodeo, Southern Oregon BrewFest/Fall Harvest, Christmas Showcase, and Holiday Market—Helen Funk, new director for The EXPO, also points out, “The occupancy for the main area is close to 90 percent for weekends through the calendar year.” These events include bridal shows, bull riding, monster trucks, rod and custom shows, the Shrine Circus, holiday markets, brewfests, athletic events and more. With spaces also available for private events, the Jackson County Fairgrounds are truly a meeting place for the community.

These are only a few of the events that bring people to the Rogue Valley each year, and many people in each community work together to provide a memorable event for all that attend. With so many events to choose from, there truly is something for everyone.


To learn more:

Britt Music and Arts Festival




Oregon Shakespeare Festival




Oregon Wine Experience



Jackson County Expo/Fairgrounds



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