by Tiffany Hill
Here are six can’t-miss culinary festivals to experience the best of Southern Oregon’s food, beer, wine and more.
Ashland Culinary Festival: November 7-10, 2019
The Ashland Culinary Festival is equal parts food and wine festival and chef and mixologist competition. It’s an epicurean delight for Ashland residents and visitors alike, featuring tastings, wine tours and culinary workshops from notable local restaurants such as Brickroom and Plancha. The three-day festival also includes Top Chef, Junior Chef and Top Mixologist competitions, judged by returning Oregon judges and Shaun O’Neale, the winner of season seven “Master Chef.” The 13th-annual festival takes place at the Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites.
Lindsey Bolling Photo
Brine, Brew & Barrel Festival: January 24-26, 2020
The name for this festival says it all: the inaugural Brine, Brew & Barrel Festival in downtown Medford celebrates everything fermented with food and drink tastings from local and regional craft establishments — including pickles, kombucha, sourdough, cheese, beer, wine, cider and more — and workshops to learn how to do it yourself. Don’t miss Friday night’s kickoff BrewBash Party, or the hot sauce and Bloody Mary bar at brunch on Sunday morning. This weekend-long festival takes place at the Inn at the Commons.
Oregon Chocolate Festival: March 6-8, 2020
In its 16th year, the Oregon Chocolate Festival welcomes West Coast chocolatiers and unique taste makers, offering a wide spectrum of products, including craft chocolate bars, bon bons and tablets, toffees, chocolate sauces, baked goods, chocolate stout, fudge and more. Start off with the annual Chocolate Maker’s Wine Dinner, bring family to the Sunday Chocolate Brunch, sign up for the Charlie’s Chocolate 5K Run, watch chef demos and participate in fun and educational presentations and workshops. Overnight packages at Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites available.
Oregon Cheese Festival: March 14-15, 2020
Gouda and manchego and camembert, oh, my! Indulge in your love for all things cheese at the annual Oregon Cheese Festival, held at the Rogue Creamery and CraterWorks in Central Point. (“Culture Magazine,” a leading industry publication, named it one of the 10 best cheese festivals in the United States.) The sprawling market-style event showcases Southern Oregon’s best cheeses — there are more than 100 vendors — along with artisan foods, beer, wine and cider, all of cheese’s favorite companions. Be sure to attend the kickoff cheesemaker dinner and the master classes.
Great Umpqua Food Truck Competition: July 4, 2020
Celebrate America’s birthday in tranquil Roseburg with a little friendly competition. Held for the fourth year at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, the Great Umpqua Food Truck Competition features more than 20 local and regional food trucks serving everything from Asian fusion fare to gooey grilled cheese and made-to-order brats as they battle for best in the Umpqua Valley. Even better? Festival-goers get to choose the winner by sampling the dishes, and washing it down with local beers and wines. To mark the holiday, the event includes live music, kids’ entertainment and ends with a rousing fireworks show.
Klamath Basin Oktoberfest: Sept. 25-Sept. 26, 2020
Take in the change of the seasons while imbibing the best of Southern Oregon’s brewers. The 2nd annual Klamath Basin Oktoberfest, held inside the Running Y Ranch Resort in scenic Klamath Falls, is a family-friendly event celebrating beer, brats and barbeque. What shines here is the beer. You’ll find seven beers on tap, all from local breweries, including IPAs from Skyline Brewing Company and Klamath Basin Brewing (also based in Klamath Falls).
Tiffany Hill is a Portland-based writer and editor most recently from Honolulu, having grown up in the bucolic Southern Oregon town of Merlin. She specializes in travel, culture and business, and her work has appeared online at USA Today, AOL and in Fodor’s O’ahu Travel. When she’s not on assignment, you can find her playing roller derby.