In the beginning, there was an idea.

 

It all started when a Greater Bandon Association board member had a grand idea for an off-season festival. It took about two years and a ton of volunteer effort to bring her dreams to reality. Greater Bandon Association and the Chamber of Commerce provided seed money to make the event possible. The Gorse Blossom Festival celebr(hated) gorse with a historical display of gorse and the fires it has caused (courtesy of the Bandon Historical Museum), a life-size dart board of Lord Bennett (the founder of Bandon and bringer of gorse), and interactive displays from our local Gorse Action Group.

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But, the outward purpose of this festival was to celebrate seafood, beer, and wine from all over Oregon and bring visitors to our charming coastal town in the short, cool days of February. We packed our motels, restaurants, and shops, served up some great entertainment, and had a magical three-day festival full of fun!

The event was hosted inside the Port of Bandon’s Marketplace, the old fisheries plant building on the bayfront, which is a Port of Bandon property. The inside was transformed into a festival paradise with giant remote-controlled fish swimming around the ceiling, twinkle lights draped from end to end, and forty beer, wine, and seafood vendors, all with the backdrop of local musicians and the South Coast Film Festival. Our days were filled with live music, and nights ended with entertainment. Fire dancers one night, a Presidential pub crawl another, and on Sunday, an early morning Bloody Mary stroll where participants collected over 20 garnishes from Old Town businesses before entering the festival for that final, and most critical, ingredient - Stillwagon Distillery vodka. We also hosted Brewmaker and Winemaker dinners in our downtown restaurants in the evenings. We sure had one heck of a good time!

 
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We’re lucky to live in a place with such a vibrant history, funky culture, and willingness to try new things. Without the innovation of our brilliant board members, and the hard work of dozens of volunteers, this event would not have succeeded. It was the quirky, “outside the box” thinking that made this event so special and the more bizarre our ideas got, the more popular the event became! The goal was to get visitors to our town and into our businesses during the off-season and we certainly accomplished that goal in a fun and inventive way. 

 
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