It’s no secret how much I love Oregon berries. One scroll through the Urban Bliss Life Instagram account, and you’ll see I love Oregon marionberries, cherries, raspberries, blueberries, and most of all, Oregon strawberries.
There is nothing in the world like Oregon strawberries. I kid you not, my friends. Oregon strawberries are the sweetest, juiciest berries you will ever have in your life. Unlike other strawberries, ours are red and tasty the entire way to the stem (no bland white parts of our berries, no sir).
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a media tour of the annual Oregon Berry Festival in Portland, Oregon. I was given a grand tour of the festival, met some fabulous local vendors, and learned a lot about the many, MANY different ways that berries can be used in food and beverage products. Then we took a field trip out to Unger Farm, one of the many awesome family-run farms in the state. Finally, we wrapped up with a delicious meal at the Oregon Berry Gala on top of the gorgeous EcoTrust building rooftop.
It was one of my favorite adventures of this summer.
Part of the reason it took me so long to post about this delightful adventure is because I took hundreds and hundreds of photos that I then had to spend hours sifting through and editing. Berries — and the joyous people who farm them and make magical items out of them — are quite photogenic.
This is the first part in a three-part series on the Oregon Berry Festival:
Part 1: Oregon Berry Festival 2014
Part 2: Field Trip to Unger Farms
Part 3: Oregon Berry Gala
Lifewise Oregon Berry Festival 2014
In its fourth year, the Oregon Berry Festival was held July 18 and 19, 2014, at the EcoTrust Center building in Portland’s Pearl District. More than 30 berry-related businesses in Oregon were on hand to share berry knowledge, sell berry products, and offer food & beverage samplings. Festival goers are treated to live music on a main stage throughout the 2-day festival, as well as a kids’ area where children can make fun and education crafts that help teach them about farming.
There were so many fantastic vendors at the 2014 Oregon Berry Festival, that it would be impossible to highlight them all here. I’m featuring a few that we had the pleasure of chatting with and learning more about their farms and products.
The Berry Patch is a family farm with acres of field grown berries in Woodburn, Oregon. They had the most beautiful display of cherries, strawberries and more.
Salt & Straw was on hand with their signature unique flavors. Pictured below is a goat cheese marionberry habanero ice cream. Sometimes I find their flavors to be misses, but this one was refreshing and fun on this hot summer day, with just a tiny bit of kick at the end. The goat cheese is from Portland creamery, and the marionberries are from local farms.
If you’re an Oregonian, you might recognize the iconic Oregon Fruit Products black label. Oregon Fruit Products is a third generation, family owned company that takes great pride in their close relationship with local farmers to provide the freshest, tastiest products. I was fortunate enough to take a tour of their operations with my two Bliss Kids earlier this month and I am excited to share that fun field trip with you soon!
Linda from Columbia Empire Farms was one of our media tour guides, and Columbia Empire Farms also had a booth at the festival.
Columbia Empire Farms grows hundreds of acres of berries and hazelnuts in Oregon, and they make several berry-based products, including the delicious marionberry filling pictured below. If you’ve been in Oregon for a while, you have likely seen their label on store shelves as well.
In addition to the food, there were plenty of berry beverages showcased at the 2014 Oregon Berry Festival as well.
Something for the whiskey fans: Eastside Distilling makes a marionberry whiskey and a cherry bomb whiskey from Oregon berries. Love the label design on these, and I can attest that the marionberry whiskey is like a sweet, slightly tart kick to your tastebuds.
Did I mention it’s been hot here in Portland this summer? And that the Oregon Berry Festival is a dog-friendly event?
This adorable pooch could easily be the booth’s mascot. He was so cute, and just wanted to stay sheltered by the booth.
Clear Creek Distillery is a Portland-based distillery that offers many different types of alcoholic berry beverages, including whiskey, brandy, this one liqueur featuring loganberries.
More highlights from the 2014 Oregon Berry Festival:
* Chatting with David Yudkin, whose title is “Chief Soda Pop” of Hot Lips Soda. The only soda I will drink is natural soda, and Hot Lips Soda is one of my favorites. Made with just-picked fruit, the only other ingredients are pure cane sugar, organic lemon juice, and filtered sparkling water. They come in five main flavors: marionberry, black raspberry, cherry, cranberry, pear raspberry, and they also have a Hawaiian Ginger Ale.
* Learning more about how black raspberries are one of the most studied berries in clinical health studies. They have one of the most concentrated sources of polyphenols and antioxidants, and are high in fiber and low in sugar compared to other berries. They also stain your fingers more than any other berry :). Visit berrihealth.com if you’d like to learn more.
If you are in Portland, Oregon in July next year, I highly suggest stopping by the Oregon Berry Festival. It’s free, kid-friendly, dog-friendly, and you will truly get a great taste of what Oregon is all about. We take great pride in our berries, our farms, and our food & beverage artisans who celebrate Oregon berries in countless delicious ways.
Coming up next on Urban Bliss Life:
Oregon Berry Festival Part 2: Field Trip to Unger Farms
Oregon Berry Festival Part 3: Oregon Berry Gala
Disclosure: Thanks to the Oregon Berry Festival for inviting me along on the media tour. As always, all opinions and photos are my own.