If you go

What: Bend Summer Festival

When: 5-10 p.m. today; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m-5 p.m. Sunday

Where: Downtown Bend

Cost: Free admission

Contact: www.bendfestivals.com


When Bend Summer Festival arrives, it’s time to breathe the sigh of relief that comes only once summer is in full swing.

Oh, yes, there’s a definite first day of summer, as the nearest pedant would be all too happy to tell you.

But in Central Oregon, the hot season arrives in steps: From spring equinox on, there are the occasional teasingly warm days, brutishly slammed aside by, yep, continued cold. Memorial Day is the last gasp of spring, or what passes for spring here. It is often a soggy, cool disappointment. But! Memorial Day is followed by an often-promising summer solstice (that would be the official first day of summer to non-pedants), then, perchance, a sweltering July 4th.

Then comes this weekend ­— Summer Fest weekend — with three days all-but-guaranteed to be tanktop-and-flip-flop hot. Be gone, coat! Get thee behind me, Yaktrax! See you suckas in a few months.

Summer Festival, sponsored by the Bank of the Cascades, is now in its 24th year. Like so many 24-year-olds, its life began in 1990, when Bend Downtowners (now the Downtown Bend Business Association) wanted to raise funds for downtown beautification.

Eventually, it wound up in the hands of busy local event organizer C3 Events, and now there’s a new crew in charge of downtown Bend’s largest festival: Keep Calm Productions, run by Rebecca Stiehl and Kyle O’Brien, who worked for C3 and are now under contract to run the Summer and Fall fests.

According to Stiehl, general manager of Keep Calm, there are a lot of fun things in store this year, including the new Acoustic Flow Community Yoga class, smack dab in the middle of Minnesota Avenue between Bond Street and Lava Road, so you might want to double-up on yoga mats. Easygoing pop-rocker Franchot Tone will be providing the music by which to flow.

“They’ll be teaching from the jazz stage,” Stiehl said. The class takes place from 9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Sunday, and a donation will go toward that old Summer Fest tradition, downtown Bend’s beautification.

Speaking of the Jazz Fusion Stage: Portland’s Scott Pemberton Trio is playing Saturday night, and Pemberton will rock your socks and/or yoga sandals off.

But that’s only one of Summer Fest’s stages. Over on the Mainstage, local punk-bluegrass stalwart Larry and His Flask will headline Friday, with Reno, Nevada funk-rock act Jelly Bread and Portland blues-rock band Tango Apha Tango headlining Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

The Locals Only Stage boasts performances by Tone Red, Boxcar Stringband and, there he is again, Franchot Tone. He and Tone Red should form a supergroup and call themselves Franchot Tone Red.

The City of Bend will be on hand for City Quest @ The Fest, a family event featuring fire engines and police dogs and cars. Better you show up there and see them under Summer Fest circumstances than some of the other ways you might encounter them. (Perhaps this would be a good place to mention drinking responsibly.)

“They’re kind of an extension of our Family Fun Street,” said Stiehl. “Their goal is to bring fun and interesting things that the City of Bend is up to, to engage people and to educate people about what (city services) are here for us.”

The Family Fun Street also features a splash zone, aerial arts and a youth performance stage featuring dance, magic and other entertainment.

In the art department, there will be somewhere in the area of 100 crafty types displaying their creations, and there will be some 30 local and regional food vendors to help you fill up for continued fun.

The 3-year-old Conscious Living showcase will be back, for those Summer Fest visitors interested in a healthy lifestyle and/or eco-friendly businesses and nonprofits.

Will there be beer on tap? Of course there will be beer on tap, silly. This is Bend! Deschutes Brewery will be pouring brews, but if you want other kinds of drinks, there will also be ciders from Atlas Cider Co., and summer mixers from Bendistillery.

If free samples and tastings are your thing, the Gourmet Food & Wine Street (aka Minnesota Avenue) will feature wineries from around the region along with specialty foods and treats.

Say it with me now: Ahhhh. Summer (Fest).

— Reporter: 541-383-0349, djasper@bendbulletin.com