The South Coast’s quiet shoulder season is about to get livelier with the debut of Live Culture Coast October 18 through October 27.
This ten-day, choose-your-own-adventure will include 50 designated experiences along a 135-mile stretch between Reedsport and Brookings. Each stop will highlight an experience that allows visitors to engage in the food, drink, art, culture or outdoor recreation of the South Coast region. Events will range from author readings, food pairings, fermentation demonstrations, art installations and paddling expeditions.
Live Culture Coast is the brainchild of Amber Peoples, the event’s creative director, who conceived of the idea after attending Fermentation Fest in rural Wisconsin and saw potential for bringing the concept to the region.
“The idea was, how do we translate it to the people and places of the South Coast?” she says. “We are working with different local businesses to provide experiences that average from two to three hours and engage food, art and a sense of place.”
Visitors can buy tickets to individual experiences online, which will range from $10 to $50. Each day will also include a headliner event in a different town, including a Lake to Table event in the town of Lakeside and a celebration at the Langlois Cheese Factory featuring Dennis Bowman of Bowman Bogs cranberry farm.
Live Culture Coast’s budget was $180,000 for the pilot year. Sponsors include OCVA, Travel Oregon, Travel Southern Oregon Coast, Wild Rivers Coast Alliance, Coos Bay-North Bend Visitors and Convention Bureau, City of Brookings and The Mill Casino.
Peoples says the event falls in line with Travel Oregon’s 2019-2021 Strategic Plan and OCVA’s 2019-2021 Regional Cooperative Tourism Plan (RTCP) to build rural economies. She says Live Culture Coast also looked at the results of a recent tourism engagement survey to understand what local businesses would like to develop.
“We are really aware that this is a place people live. We asked how can we have positive interaction between residents and tourists? How can we be cognizant of that impact? How do we celebrate the creativity of local businesses and encourage more of that creativity?”
She says the event was intentionally planned for the shoulder season.
“We want to show what is wonderful about the area no matter the weather.”
OCVA Executive Director Marcus Hinz says increased visitation is intended to bring new revenue streams to the South Coast economy during a season that typically sees a decrease in tourism spending.
“This event is a call to action and flagship marketing campaign for visitors to come and experience all the amenities of the South Coast that we have collectively funded and built over the past 5 years,” Hinz says.
Dave Lacey is OCVA’s Destination Coordinator for the South Coast and owner of Gold Beach-based South Coast Tours, which is one of the Live Culture Coast’s experiences. He says he thinks the event will help raise the profile of the Wild Rivers Coast Food Trail, whose members are part of the Live Cultures Coast.
“Even if people don’t come this time, they’ll think, ‘I’ll have to come back and do that next time,’” Lacey says.
Organizers are producing a 12-page print guide for the event, which will include a map of all designated stops. A digital map will be available online, and the hope is that attendees will continue to use the materials to explore on their own.
“This map will highlight everything. This is really taking the idea of the itinerary and amping it up ten-fold to show the things that make the South Coast really unique and special.” Peoples says.
By introducing people to the culinary, artistic and outdoor delights of the area, Peoples hopes to shine a light on the South Coast’s unique sense of place.
“I’m interested in anything that inspires curiosity and engages the five senses. I think that gets people talking and interacting and having fun together.”
Photo by Erik Urdahl