We’re coming up on one of my favorite Bend holidays of the year, and this year is pretty ideal because it falls on a Friday—three day weekend! As usual there is a ton of things to do on the Fourth itself and on top of tall that, it’s also First Friday downtown. So after a day of celebrating you can still get your First Friday art, music, and refreshments fix and watch the fireworks off of Pilot Butte not too long after.
Visit Bend has a great FAQ-style blog post detailing many of the activities taking place on Friday, and includes some weekend-long additions (camping, river activities, etc.). That’s a good place to start if you’re looking for ideas for things to do.
Of course, I have a list of possibilities for you too:
- If you get up early enough you can start with the Sunrise Lions Club Pancake Breakfast in Drake Park which starts at 8am.
- Do not miss the Pet Parade in downtown Bend which starts at 10am! This is simply the best parade of the year (and yes, I like the Christmas Parade too) because it’s tradition, it’s free for anyone who wants to join it, and it’s great fun to see the variety of animals. Probably no other Bend event says “July 4th” as much as this one.
- The Old Fashioned July 4th Festival starts in Drake Park right after the Pet Parade, at 11am. Games, food, crafts and vendors, live music, and more will be on hand to make this a lively outing in the park. This runs until 4pm if you’re so inclined.
- For me the Deschutes Public Library’s quarterly book sale that always takes place on the 4th is a highlight and a must-stop. Cheap books, you cannot go wrong with that! This year it starts at 11am to the public and runs until 4pm. (There’s a bag sale as well the next day from 1 to 4, where you can fill a bag with books for only $5.
- Another highlight is the annual Free Day at the Des Chutes Historical Museum, right across the street from the library book sale. From 10 to 4 admission is free and they even serve free ice cream cups out front. If you haven’t been to the Museum before—or if you have but not in a while—this is a great opportunity to stop in and check out some of Bend’s history. And, this year they are also celebrating the centennial of Reid School (the building they are housed in)! The school was built in 1914 and was the first modern school building in Bend. I will try to have a longer post about the school and the centennial up (since I’m writing a book on Bend, beer, and history) in time for the 4th.
- If you are bicycle-minded you can check out annual Freedom Ride which is the 1000-plus-strong bike ride through downtown Bend, organizing first at Pioneer Park starting at 2pm and ending up at Columbia Park… whenever. Dress up in your best patriotic costume, please bike safely, and join the chaotic takeover of downtown Bend as many, many, many bicyclists pedal through.
- Alternatively, you may want to check out the “Anti-Freedom Ride Freedom Ride” which isn’t trying to take over the Freedom Ride but offers more actual bike riding and less crowding. The organizer writes, “Let’s take it back to its roots with a true bike ride. With the Booty beat box playing jams, and possibly a second music bike, we’ll cruise around Bend on the best day of the year! Dance party stops with picnics, bbqs, games and activities. Don your best American regalia. Kid friendly so invite everyone you know! This isn’t a protest or ride to stick it to the man. We’ll follow traffic laws to the best of our abilities, leave no trace at stops and keep the drunken debauchery to a minimum.” Details will be posted on that page on Thursday the 3rd.
- Jake’s Diner is again holding their Vietnam Veterans of America Fourth of July BBQ, taking place from 4 to 7pm, with all proceeds going to the VVA. You’re welcome to stick around and watch the Pilot Butte fireworks from Jake’s parking lot (but no fireworks of your own or alcohol please).
- Worthy Brewing is hosting a “Party on the Patio” out east of town with live music, a special firkin tapping, and possibly some of the best Pilot Butte fireworks views in town (especially if you have a beer in hand!).
- And of course, you cannot miss the Pilot Butte fireworks show that starts at 10pm. It’s approximately 20 minutes long, and radio station 99.7 FM will be playing synchronized music along to the fireworks. Always fun to watch, and you will of course be wondering at what point the Butte itself is on fire…
Happy 4th of July!