The word "festival" was first recorded as a noun in 1589. Initially, the word had been used to describe church holidays. Today, however, the word festival denotes many different types of celebrations. In southern Oregon, that can mean a variety of themes. From an October glass blowing festival to an Oregon coast chowder feast--and every kind of celebration in between. The common bond is that all southern Oregon's festivals seek to provide entertainment. And that's exactly what they all deliver.
Southern Oregon's cities and tourism bureaus are often the sponsors of these unique-to-Oregon festivals. Food, music, and art celebrations seem to dominate the "fests" scene but even boats and children get in on the action. It appears that there is no theme too small or too narrowly niched to appeal to the masses of humanity who continue to clamor for lively southern Oregon entertainment options.
Cleverly named festivals abound. Names like "Art Along the Rogue" and "Art in Bloom" are both festivals that offer attendees a mixture of local artists selling their creations and encouragement in bringing out each attendee's inner artist. Food festivals such as Florence, Oregon's "Chowder, Blues & Brews" celebrate the local coastal clams and pair that bivalve food option with Oregon Blues musicians and micro-brews. Two food/wine festivals that are relatively new on the fests scene but are quickly becoming popular are the "Oregon Chocolate Festival" in Ashland and the "World of Wine Festival" in Gold Hill.
Music is also a prevalent festival theme. Medford Jazz Festival and the famous Britt Festival located in Jacksonville, Oregon draw music lovers from all over the United States.
Perhaps the most famous of southern Oregon's festival is the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF). Located in Ashland, OSF offers world-class plays from February through October each year and lures theatre lovers from literally around the world. In 2010, while other art venues were feeling the pinch of the recession, OSF's ticket sales actually grew by several percentage points. This positive economic indicator shows what a powerhouse a well-run festival can become.
Southern Oregon's many annual festivals celebrate the seasons, different cultures, foods, wines, agriculture, and even vintage cars and boat racing. For a nearly complete listing of southern Oregon festivals, go to: http://www.whitewaterwarehouse.com/oregon-festivals.aspx