Summerfest: the sights and sounds of downtown

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There are so many reasons to love Bend's annual Summerfest. Remember Summerfest? It's the fest that looks like all the other fests but has more "art" and less food.

Now that you've sorted out Summerfest from the other fests in your mind, the first reason to love this fest is that it's Bend's best people show. Summer arrives a few days before the festivities begin and people immediately go overboard on weird dress and acting out.

That makes the people watching terrific even if its hard to find a shady spot to sit and watch the parade of humanity pass.

Second thing to love about Summerfest is the art. There is always lots of art and it all, let's be honest, is as good as it gets.

Take for example the little wooded garden plaques (you hang them off tree limbs or place them in flower pots) at one booth with right-leaning political sentiments hand-written on them. Very clever indeed and a wakeup call for you liberals out there to retaliate and start making your own cutesy garden stuff.

Then there's the photography. Wow, who knew boats in the harbor of some Italian coastal town were so brilliantly colored, that doors in France were so red, that flowers looked like they'd dropped acid and became so vibrant. And don't start in yammering about over-Photoshopping and making scenes look , well, unreal. I'm not buying it. These photos are real art.

Then there's that other art-body art. You could take all the sailors who shipped out to the Pacific with the Navy's First Fleet over the past 50 years and got tatted up in Manila or Yokohama or some other port and the amount of ink used on them wouldn't even come close to what's been used on Bend's citizenry. Our fair city is a body art capitol. Cool.

So much for Fest's good points. Now here come the downers.

Why did that aggressive crew from a Eugene micro-brewery do most of the beer peddling? That and putting their stickers on people's bodies, packs, hats, you name it?

What happened to our local craft brewers? It's your town, get out there and show us your stuff.

Then there was the sound system at the music stage on Minnesota Street. It was ear-splitting, as if the sound engineer decided that every group that played was a rock group and so the bass had to be amped up to an almost an unbearable level.

Take for example the set done by gifted jazz vocalist Rebecca Kilgore. Kilgore is a melodic vocalist, she doesn't scream or screech, she sings.

But given the overly-amped bass and, in her case, the way overly-amped electric piano, and she was literally drowned out. But if you walked away from the stage area and stood several blocks west by the Martini Bar, she was suddenly perfectly audible.

So Fest organizers, consider the music acts more carefully next year and what amplification they really need. A good pair of ears is nice to keep in shape.

Just as a good pair of eyes are need to enjoy the best of the Fest-the people, the art, the way this Fest is just like every other Fest except that it's held in July.


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