The Oregon Brewers Festivalhas announced the cancellation of the 2023 festival that normally takes place during the last weekend in July along Portland’s waterfront. The festival finally made its return this past summer during a shortened three day affair after being dormant in 2020 and 2021.
This news is not all that surprising as many beer festivals, even the larger ones, struggle across the country as society comes out of the COVID shutdowns. Unfortunately Portland beer festivals are not immune to these new challenges, especially ones held in the downtown area that continues to struggle bringing people into the heart of the city.
Here’s the letter that was sent from the Oregon Brewers Festival team of Art Larrance, Teddy Peetz, and Alissa Larrance announcing the pause for 2023 and quite possibly the future of the event.
Dear Friends of the Oregon Brewers Festival,
After thoughtful and thorough consideration, the Oregon Brewers Festival team has decided to cancel the July 2023 event.
We’re disappointed to share this news, but we know that it’s the right thing to do. After three decades of producing OBF, we’ve developed a solid understanding of what it takes to give our attendees a great festival. And it’s clear when those factors aren’t coming together for a successful event. Higher costs, lower attendance, and extreme weather are just a few of the challenges that we’ve been discussing—but that’s far from an exhaustive list.
Great beer, however, has never been an issue. We couldn’t be prouder or more appreciative of the brewers who have come together in support of the festival year after year, and there have been some truly fantastic brews that have made their debut at OBF over the past 33 years.
We’ve enjoyed some incredible high points, meeting travelers from all over the world, welcoming 80,000 attendees one summer, and being named one of the world’s top 10 beer festivals, right alongside the Munich Oktoberfest. So now we’re hitting pause and figuring out how and when we’ll come back to offer the world-class beer festival experience that our attendees and brewers deserve.
We also recognize that the hospitality industry, which is at the core of our festival, is still working to recover from the effects of the pandemic. From local breweries to the suppliers of our festival infrastructure, many folks are just working to keep their doors open and their employees paid.
OBF will return when the time is right. As we go forward, we’ll be considering creative ways to support our local breweries and cideries through smaller festivals and partnerships. And we encourage you to do the same, by visiting your favorite watering hole, ordering takeout or delivery, leaving reviews for your favorites, buying gift cards, and following them on social media for the latest news on how to help. Let’s make sure there are plenty of thriving breweries ready to join us at OBF when we return.
We want to express our gratitude to the brewers, cider makers, volunteers, staff members and vendors who have been vital to OBF over the years; to our friends at Portland Parks & Recreation, who have been essential to the fest’s ongoing success at Waterfront Park; and to our attendees—from the ones who never missed a year to those who braved the heatwave in 2022 to join us for the first time—we can’t wait to see you again.
Art Larrance, Teddy Peetz, Alissa Larrance, & the OBF Team
D.J. is a Portland, Oregon based writer that spent his formative years in the Midwest. With over 25 years under his belt of drinking beer at festivals across America and the world, he has developed a strong appreciation and understanding of craft beer and the industry that surrounds it. He can be found in any of the great breweries or beer bars that make Portland the best beer city in the world. His writing can also be found in the archives of Northwest Brewing News and can be followed on Twitter and Instagram at @hopapalooza.