Destination Bandon: South Coast Flavor
Sure, Oregon is famous for its marionberries, but down on the South Coast, cranberries are king.
Bandon (pop. 3,057) — a remote little city at the mouth of the Coquille River and Pacific Ocean, between Coos Bay and Port Orford — has been called the cranberry capital of the West Coast, if not the world, and every fall visitors find out why.
The town will celebrate its 70th annual Cranberry Festival Sept. 9-11, 2016, with live music and a slate of family-fun festivities including cranberry eating and cooking contests and a festival market.
It’s all to honor the deep connection the town has with this world-renowned fruit, which thrives here because of the warm climate and winds. This coastal area, dubbed Oregon’s “Banana Belt,” produces a smaller, deeper-red berry that’s naturally sweeter.
The festival is just one reason to explore the community. You should spend some time at the Bandon Historical Museum to find out more about the fascinating agricultural roots here. Pick up a scratch-made lunch at Bandon Baking Company and stop in for some of the freshest, tastiest cheese and ice cream in the state at Face Rock Creamery.
Also, the unspoiled beauty of the South Coast region is a great setting for outdoor adventure. Golfers can enjoy a number of award-winning public courses, surrounded by nature; and the fishing, birding and sea stacks and tide pools on the beaches are a unique draw. Beach-goers will also want to check out the Washed Ashore project, which recycles marine debris into beautiful public artwork; and Denny Dyke’s famous Circles in the Sand beach labyrinths at Face Rock.
Hikes to Coquille Point and other scenic lookout spots are easy to access. And cyclists will love the bike-friendly vibe, including the new First Street cycle stop in Old Town, which lets them park and walk to the beaches and waterfront, shopping and dining. The new 61-mile Wild Rivers Scenic Bikeway is also just a 25-minute drive by car to the south.
Cinephiles will want to mark this event on their calendar: Later this fall, visitors will flock to Bandon for the 4th annual Oregon Coast Film Festival (Oct. 7-8, 2016), which includes dronescapes, landscapes, time-lapse photography and documentary films by professional and amateur filmmakers throughout the Pacific Northwest.
In 2015, “Harvest,” a documentary short about Dave Kranick’s Ocean Spray cranberry farm in Bandon won the Cranberry Challenge — to tell the “greatest cranberry story ever told.”
Photo by Susan Seubert