Sutherlin Blackberry Festival – Top USA Festivals


Central Park and other venues Third weekend in August

At first glance you may wonder where the blackberry fits into the Sutherlin Blackberry Festival, which seems to generate a lot more excitement for mud and vintage automobiles than berries: among the most popular events at this long-running, family-friendly summer festival are the uproarious mud volleyball tournament and the loud and sloppy mud truck races, along with the voluminous display of beautifully restored classic cars and trucks.

Sutherlin Blackberry Festival – Top USA Festivals Photo Gallery

But blackberries make an appearance as well—not only do blackberry brambles grow profusely in the area, but the festival also invites chefs of all stripes to compete in the annual Blackberry Cook-Off. In the festival’s earlier years, this culinary challenge had just a few categories, but now, contestants whip up scrumptious blackberry delights ranging from candies, confections, jams, and jellies to main course dishes, including ribs, kebabs, salmon, game hens, and more. Entry in the cook-off is open to anyone, with registration taking place Saturday morning. Judges are from all walks of life around the community—and many love their job so much that they return year after year to sample the delicacies.

Sutherlin’s marquee festival begins with a cruise-in and poker run on Friday afternoon, followed by a street-party-style dance, with live music (see event website for locations). On Saturday, verdant Central Park hosts a full slate of activities, including the Blackberry Festival’s huge car show, the Blackberry Cook-Off, mud volleyball, BMX races, four-wheel-drive barrel races, and lots of entertainment, along with numerous food and craft booths. Top the evening off with the classic car cruise and a dance in the streets of Sutherlin. The fun continues on Sunday with the motorcycle show, chili cookoff, diaper derby, and, of course, the mud races. Along with food, activities, and entertainment, the festival also features several drawings for fantastic prizes, including one lucky winner of a vintage automobile each year. The raffle monies go to good causes—not only to keep the event running but to provide

Vintage autos of all descriptions are a key part of the Sutherlin Blackberry Festival continuing education scholarships to graduates of Sutherlin and Oakland High Schools to help them in their quest to achieve a college education.

Now about that name, Blackberry Festival: in 1988, Wayne Calder,

Bruce Long, and Donnie Moore met for lunch at Pat’s Kozy Kitchen (a local’s favorite and a hidden gem awaiting discovery by visitors) to discuss plans for a new community festival. One critical issue remained unresolved: what to name the event. The men were brainstorming as Pat Greer (owner of the diner) waited tables. Someone in the group said, “Well, blackberries are ripe this time of the year. Why don’t we call it the Blackberry Festival?”

They all turned to Greer as if asking for approval. She agreed, saying, “Sounds good to me,” and Blackberry Festival had its name. Long was the city manager at the time; Moore worked for a time in the city; and Calder was the chairman of the festival for its first twenty years. Greer became the festival secretary and has served in that capacity ever since. Pat’s Kozy Kitchen opened in 1977 and epitomizes the affable, small-town charm of Sutherlin—a community of about 8,000 residents that readily welcomes visitors and offers an eclectic assortment of locally owned businesses and numerous avenues of outdoors recreation nearby.

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