In most northern states, winter means shoveling sidewalks, missing school and soaring utility bills. But in Bend, winter just means WinterFest.
The festival, which draws a crowd of roughly 40,000 each year, features all the usual suspects: an ice carving exhibition, a skating rink, ski races and snowman contests. The Winter Wine Walk is also a local favorite, along with the snowboard and ski rail jam.
Winter is an iconic time in the Pacific Northwest, but Bend doesn’t need a blanket of snow as an excuse to celebrate. The town also holds music, summer and fall festivals each year.
The fall festival sports the staple seasonal traditions of pumpkin pie making (and eating), bobbing for apples and hayrides.
So what’s Bend like when there isn’t a festival in town? It’s a rare occurrence, it seems, but when it happens, the city’s art and education community step in to fill the cultural gap.
Art in Public Places is a group that makes it their mission to see Bend beautified through the display of art. In 2005, sculptures in a Bend roundabout were honored by Americans for the Arts as one of the 37 most innovative approaches to art in the country.
They received nods for their diversity and the level of discussion they stimulated within the community.
This recent recognition affirms the inquisitive, innovative spirit that singles Bend out among its peers. The culture of the city rests on education, as well as artistic expression.
The High Desert Museum, now nationally acclaimed, opened on the dream of Donald Kerr, a young man who fell in love with animals after raising a wolf cub for a school project. Kerr opened the museum in 1982, and he strives to make nature and wildlife accessible to as many people as possible.