Looking for something fun to do in South Portland this weekend?  Check out Portland’s 26th Annual Oregon Brewers Festival in South Waterfront’s Tom McCall Waterfront Park, which started July 24th and goes through the 28th.  The Oregon Brewers Festival is one of the nation’s longest running craft beer festivals, and it provides an opportunity to sample and learn about a variety of craft beer styles from across the country.  The festival features more than 80 craft breweries from all parts of the nation, which offer more than 20 styles of handcrafted beers, and it also offers live music, beer-related vendors, beer memorabilia displays, beer writers and publishers, home brewing demonstrations, and an assortment of foods from a variety of regions.  This festival even has something for the minors (who must be accompanied by a parent) and designated drivers—complimentary handcrafted root beer from the Crater Lake Root Beer Garden!

The Oregon Brewers Festival began in July 1988 as a promotional tool for the local microbreweries, of which there were only four in Portland at the time—BridgePort, McMenamins, Portland, and Widmer.  Today, Portland is home to 51 brewers.  The festival’s website has provided an extensive history of microbreweries in Portland and the United States here, if you’re interested.

The festival just hosted The Oregon Brewers Parade to kick it all off Wednesday, July 24th, which started around 11:30 am and included more than 600 beer lovers.  These beer lovers walked from BridgePort Brewing Co. to the grounds of the Oregon Brewers Festival at Tom McCall Waterfront Park with traffic assistance from the Portland Police.  This year’s Grand Marshal was John Foyston, a longtime beer writer who currently writes The Beer Here column in The Oregonian.  John and event founder Art Larrance were chauffeured along the parade route courtesy of PDX Pedicab.  The parade was accompanied by the Transcendental Brass Band.

But if you missed the parade, you can still catch some live music at the festival.  Some of the live music coming up tonight, tomorrow, and Sunday include Fruition, Giraffe Dodgers, Blvd Park, World’s Finest, Polecat, Hill Dogs, Rolling Boil, Tapwater, Buckle Rash, and Black Lodge.  The music begins at 7 pm tonight and tomorrow and at 5 pm Sunday.  Participating restaurants include Horn of Africa, Madison’s Grill, Raccoon Lodge & Brew Pub, The Rheinlander & Gustav’s, Rogue Ales Public House, and Blue Elephant.

Admission to the festival grounds is free, but if you want to taste all the beer, you must purchase a 2013 souvenir tasting glass, which costs $7.  No other vessels will be filled.  Beer can be purchased with wooden tokens, which cost $1 each, and it takes four tokens for a full glass of beer or one token for a taste.  The glass/token sales booth is cash only, but the festival offers eight ATM machines on the premises for your convenience.  Taps are open from 12 pm to 9 pm today and tomorrow and from 12 pm to 7 pm on Sunday.

The festival encourages responsible drinking and urges patrons to take advantage of the MAX Light Rail line located just one block west of the festival on SW Oak Street.  The festival also offers free, on-site bicycle parking.

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