The Bite of Bend: This weekend, June 19-21

The Bite of BendThe annual Bite of Bend, “Central Oregon’s Largest Food Festival,” kicks off this Friday, June 19 to run through Sunday the 21st. It’s once again taking over Downtown Bend, and as always is completely free to attend (though the individual food and drink aren’t entirely free of course). Their recent press release summarizes up the weekend nicely:

New this year is a Friday night sampling of food, beer, spirits and music on Minnesota Avenue. For the first time, festival producers are opening up the event on Friday night at 5pm with a pre-event celebration and preview of the weekend’s tastiest plates and libations. The evening will offer a mix, mingle and music atmosphere under the downtown summer sky, the perfect way to kick off this foodie weekend.

Also premiering in 2015 is The Mixology Showcase, a grand showing of cocktails using the very best from local spirits, ciders and kombucha teas. Not to be confused with your average rum and Coke, The Mixology Showcase will put on display and up for taste the in-depth talent that defines the art and craft of today’s most refined mixed drinks. New takes on the classics, exotic inventions, and lesser known distilled spirits will push the limits of what classic bartending and happy hour fare mean in Central Oregon. Saturday will feature a interactive Mimosa Competition and Sunday will feature a interactive Bloody Mary Competition.

Central to the event is “the bite,” the small $1-$2 plate that participating restaurants create especially for the Bite of Bend. This year, the Bite of Bend will showcase more than 35 restaurants from around the region, each illustrating a unique style and flavor in their bite. Festival attendees feast on bite after bite from chefs and restaurants directly as they make their way through downtown Bend. Many participating restaurants will also create larger plates for purchase.

The event will also host the annual Beer Run on Sunday, June 21 at 12pm. A wildly popular run representative of Central Oregon’s passionate craft brew culture, the Beer Run is a 5k-race that replaces rehydration stops with beer stops. Participants quench their thirst hop-style with a quick refresh from Deschutes Brewery, 10 Barrel Brewing, Cascade Lakes Brewing Company, and Altas Cider at the finish line. The first 500 registered runners get a beer souvenir. All registered runners will receive free entry into The Mixology Showcase. Registration for the Beer Run is $35 until June 18th, $40 in person. Participants must be 21 years or older.

Because little ones like to drink and run too – drink root beer, that is — the Cuppa Yo Little Hopper Root Beer Run is for kids between the ages of 3-10. Racers will run the course while building key components of their root beer float. Best race ever? Let your kids be the judge!

The Bite runs from 5 to 11pm on Friday, 11am to 11pm Saturday, and 11am to 6pm on Sunday. Check out their schedule to keep track of what’s happening when, including the live music (all free).