Art in the High Desert: the “unexpected gem” of the art world

By Dusty Trails


Art in the High Desert has been described as the “unexpected gem” of the art fair world. Last year, it was ranked 14th in Greg Lawler’s Fine Art Fair SourceBook–the “bible” of the industry–on a list of over 600 art shows. That means our little show is competing with the likes of Portland’s Art in the Pearl and the La Quinta Art Festival near Palm Springs; large, seasoned events with big budgets in metropolitan areas. What makes it so special?


The quality:

The selection process for these artists is very competitive, and attracts top talent from across the country and Canada for a show of extraordinary quality. Even though the event is only in its 6th year, applications for this year’s show poured in from 28 states and British Columbia in 14 different media categories: 2-D mixed media, metal work, painting, 3-D mixed media, photography, sculpture, ceramics, printmaking, digital art, drawing, wearables, fiber non-wearables, glass, wood, and jewelry. In a two-day marathon session, this year’s four jurors had the daunting task of selecting just over 100 visual artists from the talented pool.


The format:

Because the show is juried, it is one of the few art shows in the country that allows fellow artists and critics to give creators specific feedback on their work. The show was conceived by artists, for artists, accounting for its instant popularity. And as a non-profit, any money that comes out of the festival goes back into the festival and anything left over gets donated to local arts programs.


The location:

This almost goes without saying. What could be better than perusing beautiful fine art on the banks of the Deschutes River? So we’ll see you at the booths across from the Old Mill District from 10-6 Friday and Saturday, and from 10-4 on Sunday to find your new favorite piece of art!

Catch the fireworks from Tripleknot, and other Fourth of July festivities

By Dusty Trails


Independence Day is quickly approaching, and I’ve got my outfit all planned out: blue jean overalls to go with my bright red sunburn on my pale white skin from floating the river the other day. Ouch! But a little sunburn isn’t going to stop me from celebrating the birth of our nation. So here is an overview of the festivities in Central Oregon this Fourth of July.

The annual Spark Your Heart 5K run/walk kicks off the day at Riverbend Park at 8 am in support of local adult and children’s heart services. After the run, head over to the traditional Pancake Breakfast in Drake Park served from 8 am to noon by the Bend Sunrise Lion’s Club. This all-American meal costs $4 for kids and $6 for adults and the proceeds benefit local charities.

My personal favorite event is the Pet Parade. Every year as a child, I would decorate my bike, scooter, roller skates, wagon, dog, hamster—everything—in red white and blue paraphernalia, put on a crazy costume, and line up with hundreds of other patriotic participants to march, pedal, skip, and dance down the streets of downtown. The parade started in the 1930s and is Bend’s largest, with 8,000 spectators and participants. If you would like to be in the parade, the lineup and decorating party starts at 9:30 am in the parking lot between Bond and Wall across from the Deschutes Public Library. If you’re just watching, be sure to arrive well before the 10 am start time to find parking and a good spot to enjoy the procession.

After the parade, head over to Drake Park for the Old Fashioned July 4 Festival from 11-4 for games, live music, food booths, and more than 100 artisan booths.

Finally, after an afternoon of barbecuing, floating the river, paddle boarding, biking, or whatever your Independence Day activity of choice may be, get ready for the fireworks at 10 pm. They are launched from the top of Pilot Butte, so Tripleknot residents don’t have to go far to find one of the best vantage points to watch the magic happen.

What’s with this mountain biking craze, anyway?

By Dusty Trails


I have to make a confession. In my 20 years of living in Bend, I have never really gotten into mountain biking. And it’s a shame, because there are over 270 miles of continuously linked single-track mountain biking trails right in my backyard.

So last weekend I officially tried mountain biking for the first time. I had an experienced friend take me out to Phil’s Trail, the popular biking hub that is less than 5 minutes away from Tripleknot. From there, we had an overwhelming number of options of trails we could do. My friend graciously got me started on a beginner route called Ben’s trail, which has less hills and rocks than the more advanced trails do.

After clumsily falling off of my commuter bike a week before, I wasn’t too confident about dodging rocks and roots and tree branches while going fast on a bike. We started out going pretty slowly when I came to my first obstacle where the trail wound in between two trees that were only about a foot apart. I closed my eyes, gritted my teeth, and somehow made it through the death trap.

But instead of feeling nervous, I suddenly felt exhilarated. We were twisting and turning through tight trees, bombing down big hills, climbing up bigger ones, and ducking under overhanging tree branches, and I could not stop smiling. There were even smoothed out logs that you could bike over. I have always been into trail running, but this was so much more fun! The forest was our playground, and we had all day to explore.

I still have a lot to learn about the sport, but I cannot wait to get out there and start riding again. There are countless trails in Bend for beginners like me along with the world-class biking crowd. It’s easy to find a friend to show you some good places to start, but Cog Wild Bicycle Tours can also be a fun way to get to know the ropes. And believe me, it’s worth it. Now I know what this mountain biking craze in Central Oregon is all about!

Welcome to “beervana”

By Dusty Trails


Nothing tops off a great day of kayaking at Sparks Lake or hiking in the Three Sisters Wilderness like kicking off the damp Chaco’s and dusty hiking boots enjoying a craft beer with good company by a campfire. Or heading down to a local brewery and sampling different beers on tap. Or hopping on the Ale Trail.

Come to think of it, we’ve got countless ways to enjoy great beer here in Bend. Maybe that’s why we were included on CNN Travel’s list of the “8 Best Beer Towns in the USA.” We made it to number seven on the list behind giants like San Francisco, San Diego, and Denver. Our friends in Portland came in at number one, as they boast more breweries than any city in the world.

But we held our own, that’s for sure. Bend is called “beervana” and “Beer City, USA” for a reason. We’ve got one brewery for every 9,111 people, and the writers couldn’t even keep up with that statistic because two more local breweries have opened up in the meantime. The Bend Ale Trail is a must-do for locals and visitors alike. And Boneyard Beer even provides dog lovers with the world’s first organic, non-alcoholic brew made for dogs, Dawg Grogg.

We also received kudos for our annual beer celebrations and events, including Central Oregon Beer Week, which is just around the corner on May 20-27. It includes tastings, meet the brewers, beer dinners, special tours, and culminates in the two-day Brewski festival up the road from Tripleknot at Mt. Bachelor Memorial Day weekend.

Poling, Pedaling, and Paddling

By Dusty Trails


May has finally arrived. Which means athletes are scouring their garages for every piece of gear they own. Teams are coordinating their Jamaican bobsled outfits, military suits, and tutus. SUVs are loaded with kayaks, bikes and skis. The entire community is preparing for its signature event: The Pole Pedal Paddle.

The PPP on May 18 is the ultimate relay race. It starts just up the road from Tripleknot at Mt. Bachelor with an alpine leg to the exchange point at West Village Lodge. Then skate and classic skiers hit the Nordic trails for an 8 km dash to the cycling exchange, where racers enjoy a scenic 22-mile ride along Century Dive into Bend. The next leg is a 5-mile run along the Deschutes River Trail to a 1.5-mile canoe/kayak leg at Farewell Bend Park in the Old Mill District. As if all this wasn’t enough, the race ends with a .5-mile sprint along the grassy banks of the river to the finish line. Pheew! Did I forget anything? They don’t have a skydiving leg. But they might as well add one while they’re at it.

While it is Bend’s biggest community event, it’s far from being a local one. Incredible athletes from all over the country flock to this unique race. But you don’t have to be a pro to get your Pole Pedal Paddler on. You can compete individually, in pairs, and in teams. And you can be as competitive as you want. If you don’t compete, heading down to Farewell Bend to cheer the racers on and to enjoy the booths, live music, awesome food (and beer, of course), is just as much fun.

The Pole Pedal Paddle is the epitome of everything that Bend has to offer. On top of taking advantage of the awesome outdoor activities we are blessed to have in our town, the event demonstrates the strong sense of community we have built. We’ll see you out there on May 18 poling, pedaling, paddling and cheering!

A new home for you… and your dog will love it too

By Dusty Trails


We love our dogs here in Central Oregon. That’s why Dog Fancy magazine named Bend the top “dog town” in the country last year. We’ve got restaurants that encourage dogs in their patio areas, a parade for pets on the 4th of July, and a luxury hotel that gives your dog a personalized pet bed, Joshua Tree Pet Salve, and even pet massages. So yes, I think it’s safe to say we’re deserving of our new title.


In the summertime, it’s not uncommon to see dogs floating along on the front of a kayak or paddleboard with the locals, or jumping into the river after a Frisbee at the River Bend Dog Park. The city boasts six other off-leash areas, along with miles of dog-friendly mountain biking trails in the Deschutes National Forest.


Wintertime is just as much fun for dogs. The city’s dog advocacy group, DogPAC, has acquired a snowcat—renamed Sno-Dog—to enhance trail grooming at Wanoga Sno-Park, resulting in a two-mile loop of dog-friendly winter trails next to your own ski and snowshoe tracks.


Area residents and winter visitors can take dog-sled rides at the Oregon Trail of Dreams on Mt. Bachelor and maybe meet local Iditarod musher Rachel Scdoris. Mt. Bachelor Avalanche Rescue Dogs are skilled at locating victims under masses created by snow slides, while the dogs in the High Desert Search Dogs group focus on wilderness and urban tracking and trailing.


With “ruffly” 27,000 dogs to 80,000 people, the city has definitely warmed up to its canine companions. It’s easy to see why Dog Fancy has honored Bend as the best place for man’s best friends to have a healthy, active life. And it’s not too shabby for their owners, either.

Get your fine art fix in Central Oregon

By Dusty Trails


I’m proud to say that my hometown has been ranked among the best of the best in everything from breweries to ski resorts to cycling. And guess what. We’re nationally ranked for something AGAIN.


Our Art in the High Desert festival was ranked 14th out of the top 25 events for sales of fine art in Greg Lawler’s Fine Art Fair Sourcebook. We are now in the big leagues with other top ranked festivals, such as the La Quinta Arts Festival (#1) near Palm Springs and Portland’s Art in The Pearl (#4). Our show is only five years old and has risen above some of the biggest, oldest art fairs in the country. So we must be doing something right.


The show takes place the weekend before Labor Day weekend at the Old Mill. But if you can’t wait for September to get here for your fix of fine art, our First Friday Art Walks in downtown Bend might be able to hold you over until then. This is when dozens of businesses open up their shops and display local and national art. Many even offer live music, food and wine from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. on the first Friday of every month.


There’s something for everyone when it comes to art and culture in Bend. So while we’re waiting for Art in the High Desert, put on your Patagonia micro-puff and hit the streets of downtown Bend for your monthly dose of acclaimed artwork, awesome food and drink, and an overwhelming sense of community worth its own national recognition.

What about all those Roundabouts?

By Dusty Trails


I’ll let you in on a secret. One of my favorite places in Bend is the “Lodestar” roundabout on the hill at the intersection of Bond Street and Reed Market Road. The other day, I was driving back to the West side of town after running some errands when I came to this roundabout as the sun was setting over Mt. Bachelor and the Three Sisters. I could see the sparkling Deschutes River running through Farewell Bend Park covered in floating ice and flying geese against the orange backdrop of the cliffs.


The art chosen for this particular site is a rounded copper-colored sculpture, which frames each mountain as you circle it. It’s almost worth an extra lap around to take in the whole view. It is at this moment in my busy day that I can take a breath and gain a renewed sense of gratitude for the beautiful city I live in.


Whether you’re a visitor or a local, you’ve probably noticed by now that roundabouts have become a staple of Bend’s driving habits and culture. In fact, it’s easy to tell who’s not from around here by their improper and confused roundabout etiquette. But I digress. Except for the rare occurrences when we encounter a visitor driving them in the wrong direction, most Bendites embrace them as gas-saving alternatives to traffic signals and four-ways stops.


Always a popular topic of conversation is roundabout art. The most controversial is undoubtedly “Phoenix Rising” (or the “Flaming Chicken,” as we like to call it) on 14th Street and Galveston. Roundabout art is even featured as its own tour. The Bend Visitors Center provides maps of the 20 roundabout sculptures in the city, and you can even win a prize if you answer all the trivia questions correctly. So when you’re done exploring in the mountains for the day, feel free to explore the city…by roundabout.

What’s not to like?

By Dusty Trails


Last week, a little newspaper called The New York Times just included Bend in an article entitled “12 Months of Skiing, From Chile to China.” Somewhere between Chile and China, our own mountain is cited as one of the best places to ski in the month of July for its Fourth of July opening. That’s pretty cool. But the fact is, we have so much more to brag about.


For instance, National Geographic and Travel + Leisure magazines also recently included Mt. Bachelor on their compilations of best ski towns. Basically we’re proving what we already knew, that Bend is one of the best of the best when it comes to winter fun (and summer skiing, evidently).


Apparently The New York Times has a soft spot for us Bend-ites, because they published yet another piece back in April entitled, “Bend, Ore., a Brewer’s Town.” The newly expanded Deschutes Brewery downtown was the inspiration for the article, as it has become the fifth largest craft brewer in the nation and has contributed to one of the highest brewery-to-resident ratios in the country.


So we’ve got prime skiing and awesome beer. What else makes us so great? In a May 2011 edition of Outdoor Life magazine, Bend came in at number one on their list of America’s Top 200 Towns for Sportsmen for its “embarrassment of sporting riches.” What’s more, in a 2009 article in Mountain Bike Action magazine, Bend was named America’s Top Mountain Biking Town that “seems like it was founded just for mountain bikers.”


Central Oregon is not only a great place to live for humans, but for dogs, too. Every year, Dog Fancy magazine names the top “DogTowns,” and the winner for 2012 was…Bend! Rightly so. The article sites Bend as “a place where dogs both work and play, ski and swim.”


We were even awarded best tasting drinking water in the Pacific Northwest’s Cascade to Coast section of the American Water Works Association for its “clean, crisp and grassy” flavor with a “nice aftertaste.” Grassy? Whatever.


The latest writer to wax fondly about us is Nathan Borchelt who began his article in The Washington Post last month by stating, “I hate Bend, Ore.” But that’s only because he says, “No place should have it this good.” Truly, the man had nothing but positive things to say about our humble abode.


See for yourself what all the fuss is about at Visit Bend. Then don’t be surprised if you start bragging about it too.