Citing increasing costs, declining attendance, and the lingering economic impact of the pandemic on hospitality industry, Portland’s iconic beer festival will not be going forward this year.
Oregon’s original craft beer celebration, the Oregon Brewers Festival, (affectionately referred to as the “OBF” by locals) got its start in July 1988. It was the brainchild of Art Larrance, founder of Portland Brewing Co. He’d been to Oktoberfest in Munich and wanted to create a similar atmosphere that would celebrate the region’s small brewers.
At Its height, the Oregon Brewers Festival attracted almost 50,000 beer lovers from all around the world. And the fact that they’ve decided to hit pause on the beloved event so early in 2023, speaks to an economy that’s not getting any better and an industry less vital than it once was. Craft beer is getting more expensive and its fans more discriminating as to how they spend their dollars as well as their time.
In a statement posted to the festival’s website, cofounders Art and Alissa Lawrence were joined by fellow organizer Terry Peetz to say they’re putting the event “on pause” for a number of reasons including increasing costs, declining attendance, and the lingering economic impact of the pandemic on hospitality industry.
This from that statement…
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.
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.
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—we can’t wait to see you again.
Art Larrance, Teddy Peetz, Alissa Larrance, & the OBF Team
(All Image credits: Oregon Brewers Festival)