The Blackberry Arts Festival is a juried art and craft festival that has been happening consecutively for 37 years. It was started to highlight the works of local artists and crafters during the annual harvest of the blackberry. It features an impressive array of metalwork, jewelry, quilts, candles, hand-painted clothing, wine, carved wood, and much more available for purchase. The festival also includes food vendors. It is not hard to find food and craft featuring the blackberry. This is a free event with activities centered on Central Avenue in downtown Coos Bay. The festival is scheduled for August 27th and 28th this year.
Saturday, August 26 and 27, 2023: Be sure and mark this event on your calendar. If you are an artist or a vendor of handmade goods, The Blackberry Arts Festival is a great place to sell your work. Due to the festival’s popularity throughout Oregon, available space goes quickly. Act today and ensure your space for the 2023 Blackberry Arts Festival.
For more information contact Holly Boardman, Executive Director (541) 266-9706, or stop by the Coos Bay Downtown Association office located at 320 Central Ave #410, Coos Bay, OR 97420
Pay your Vendors Fees or other CBDA Fees
Blackberry Arts Festival T-Shirts
Order your Blackberry Arts Festival T-Shirt today. T-Shirts are presale only. T-Shirts can be picked up at check-in on Friday, August 25th at the Coos Bay Downtown Association booth.
Both the women’s V-neck t-shirt and the men’s t-shirt are New Era Heritage Blend t-shirts that are incredibly soft and comfortable.
To purchase yours click here to download the form.
Please thank our 2023 Blackberry Arts Festival Sponsors:
Judging will begin at 11:30 a.m. and the winners names will be announced no later than 2 p.m. Saturday at the festival. Prize awards will be made at 2:00 p.m. at the Elks.
The winner and top contestants will receive prizes from our CBDA members.
Each recipe entry should be sizable enough for at least six healthy tastes. Each recipe entry must include a copy of a detailed recipe with credit given to the original source; for example Betty Crocker’s Cook Book or great grandma Lulu’s family recipe. *Recipes will be included in an official Blackberry Arts Festival It’s All Berry Good Recipe cookbook at a later date.
When creations are submitted a number will be assigned to ensure anonymity. A photo of you and your recipe will be taken and protected until after the contest. A copy of your recipe will be attached to the contestants entry form. Then the special panel of judges will arrive to determine the prize winning “It’s All Berry Good” recipe creations.
Use of blackberries; appearance; prep time/ease of recipe; and of course, taste.
The history of the Blackberry Arts Festival
The Blackberry Arts Festival is one of the two largest festivals in the Bay Area. Like its counterpart, the Bay Area Fun Festival in September, they have been local and regional draws for over four decades. Being in the rural part of the state, we sometimes must be creative to provide our citizens better livability. Through the years, we have learned that not only do we have the blessing of natural beauty, but we have a rich cultural side. The Blackberry Arts Festival represents both of those.
While the blackberry can be a thorn in the side of property owners, it is also delicious. It can be used in almost every type of cooking. Overtime, volunteers have continued to celebrate that harvest, when the blackberry is ripest for picking. It comes every August, and though the year the festival started is debated between 1980 and 1981 it has happened every year since, changing with the times and becoming what it is today.
Former State Senator and Coos Bay Mayor Joanne Verger was one of those involved in the original event. At the time, she and her husband had just sold the car dealership they owned. She had been selected as the Downtown Business Association promotional director. She along with The World Newspaper Editor/Publisher Jerry Barron and local artist Dorothy Vaughan decided to start a small intimate event that featured artists on the Coos Bay Mall for a day. Joanne provided the logistics and promotion along with Barron, an artist himself, and Vaughan gathered artists to set up with their easels and work in front of an appreciative viewing public.
Over the years, the festival has remained on the mall. It is now a two-day event that draws not only local artists but many from all over the country. It is a juried festival, meaning the items being displayed must be high quality and handmade. The vendors at the market are not only encouraged to sell their items but demonstrate them being made as well. Most come from Oregon, but before the pandemic, and at the height of the festival, there could be up to 100 artists, silversmiths, photographers, wood workers, potters and more from the three western states and as far as New York.
The local PEO organization became famous for their delicious blackberry cobblers and pies. They sell out at the festival every year. That tradition continued during the pandemic when the festival was on hiatus by using word of mouth and social media networks. At the festival, all food vendors are encouraged to feature at least one blackberry influenced item whether it is food, sauce, or beverage. That has also branched out to local restaurants who also feature blackberry treats and adult beverages.
The downtown business association has become the Coos Bay Downtown Association which still sponsors and organizes the festival. They also promote the downtown core and Coos Bay’s Front Street. Their website features additional information about the festival and CBDA Membership.
While here, festivalgoers will find many activities to enhance their trip. Of course, if they like to pick Blackberry’s, they can find them just about anywhere. A popular spot is above Mingus Park/Chosi Gardens along the roads and hiking trails. Libby Road in the Englewood area, that connects south Coos Bay and Charleston is also a great place to find Blackberry’s.
The Blackberry Jam is brought to you by:
Coos Bay Toyota and Pacific Properties
Saturday, August 26th
12:00 PM – Jeff Torrence
2:00 PM – Trent Beaver
4:00 PM – Terry Rob
Saturday, August 27th
12:00 PM – Chris Coach
2:00 PM – Ben Rice