It's no secret that Portland is a big foodie town. But did you know it's home to one of the nation's hottest food festivals? Since its debut in 2011, Feast Portland has grown at a staggering rate, most recently attracting almost 18,000 attendees. What makes this such a popular festival? After years of watching the festival happen from afar, we finally ventured down to Oregon to check it out. And now we have to agree: Feast Portland is one of the best food events that we've ever been to. Here are 4 reasons why we'll be attending as often as we can.
1. It's 4 days long.
There's no shortage of one-day food festivals or those that have the same line-up for several days in a row. In the case of Feast Portland, the event goes on for 4 days in a row. Each day has its own full schedule of events, both official and unofficial, and there are even after parties. Think South by Southwest, but for food. In short, it's a food lover's paradise.
2. There are 40+ events spread throughout the city.
Rough estimates say there are at least 40 events related to Feast Portland that go down in the city in a 4-day time span. All events take place in a series of venues across the city of Portland, which helps spread out the crowds. For out-of-town attendees, this also means ample reasons to explore new parts of town.
If the thought of 40+ events sounds overwhelming, not to fear. The events are categorized and you can attend the ones that pique your interest. There's everything from intimate Hands-On Classes and Drink Tanks to Fun-Size Events and small Dinner Series. Or you can opt for these 5 main events that you should definitely attend.
The Sandwich Invitational
Held at the RoseQuarter, this showdown invites 19 all-star chefs to whip up their very best sandwich. They can go for a classic interpretation, or completely bend the rules of what comprises a sandwich. As an attendee, you get to try as many of the sandwiches as you can fit in your stomach. On-site judges determine the winners.
Grand Tasting (Friday and Saturday)
For two days, Pioneer Courthouse Square in the heart of downtown Portland is filled with more than 80 vendors for the Grand Tasting. There's everything from food and drinks to artisan bakeries, ice cream, and more. Come hungry, as you can easily have multiple meals here.
Located at Zidell Yards, the Night Market is a bit outside of the other main events. But it lends to fabulous views of the downtown Portland skyline and Tilikum Crossing. This delicious outdoor event is Latin-themed and features the culinary creations of over 20 chefs.
One of the most popular Feast Portland events, Smoked! invites 22 world class chefs to the Pearl District to cook up their very best BBQ. Each tasting station is decked out with its own outdoor grill and you can often witness chefs and their culinary teams hard at work. It's a tasty and visual spectacle that's a meat lover's dream.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, there's no better tradition than weekend brunch. Feast Portland's Sunday Brunch Village tops off the 4-days of gluttony with some of the nation's best brunch makers. You'll often get everything from traditional American brunch staples to ethnic dishes you wouldn't normally try.
3. There's local and national culinary talent.
Feast Portland certainly highlights many local chefs and food brands. But they also do an excellent job of curating events with a good mix of notable national talent. At many of the events mentioned above, you'll find some of the hottest chefs and restaurants from other culinary cities including New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and more.
4. It's all for a good cause.
Perhaps the best part about Feast Portland is that it's all for a good cause. Net proceeds are donated to Partners For a Hunger-Free Oregon, which works toward ending childhood hunger in the community. As of 2017, Feast Portland has raised over $300,000 for the organization.
If you're a foodie, attending Feast Portland is an absolute must. Many people travel from out of town for the annual event and hotel specials can often be secured. One of the festival's sponsors, Alaska Airlines, also offers many nonstop flights from cities around the USA. If you're thinking about attending, be sure to buy tickets in advance as they often sell out. See you next year!
To see Feast Portland in photos, click here.