As one of the biggest events in the state, and definitely the biggest on the central coast, the Newport Seafood and Wine Fest might seem a bit intimidating. Personally, fathoming that this event regularly drew over 120,000 people in the past few years made me slow my roll a bit.
If you're trying to find your why? for visiting an event of this size, here are a few other w’s that might help you pull the trigger.
An outdoor tent in Oregon? In February?
Even if a storm is raging outside, the 54,000-square feet of tenting housing the festival is gloriously filled with heat, a new luxury for this annual event. Gone are the days of needing to swaddle oneself in down, flannel and fleece.
Thanks to improved heating in the tents, you can check your down at the door
WAITING (or not)
What about the sometimes-long lines to get into the event? According to Bobbie Price of the Newport Chamber of Commerce, this has a sunnier outlook as well.
“Our tents have gotten larger, so we are past the days of the four-hour lines,” she said. “Our lanes are larger, too, so it feels much more open and less crowded.”
People can also buy day-of tickets a bit later in the day when the crowds have died down a bit, a new option for 2020.
WALKING (or riding)
The City of Newport really, really doesn’t want you to drink and drive. The police force goes on high alert during the four days of the event, and the city makes it easier than ever to snag a free ride between the festival and your accommodations.
Even if you aren’t staying close enough to walk from Newport, take advantage of the free shuttles provided that stop at many of the local hotels, motels and Newport neighborhoods. The trips include a very cool trip over the Yaquina Bay Bridge.
Okay, I know, this one was kind of a no-brainer and is hinted at in the name. But seriously, you can taste some of the roughly 150 different wines on offer during the weekend. If you’ve decided to make this the year you become the kind of person who can tell a merlot from a malbec, this is your event.
What else? The food.
The long list of vendors' delicacies and dishes made with fresh salmon, shrimp, Dungeness crab, oysters and more all contribute to the event's draw every year. But don’t let the thought of crowds keep you from giving it a try.
“We’ve done so much to keep the event one of the biggest in the state but to not make it feel that way,” Price said. “It’s a different experience than it was 5 years ago but the food, vendors and wine are always fabulous.”
The festival runs from Thursday, February 20, through Sunday, February 23, located next to Rogue Ales in South Beach.
-Thursday, Feb. 20, 5 to 9 p.m., admission $26.
-Friday, Feb. 21, 12 to 9 p.m., $28.
-Saturday, Feb. 22, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., $33.
-Sunday, Feb. 23, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., $12.
-Special three-day pass for Friday through Sunday, $48.
All ticket prices include a commemorative wine glass.
Ticket prices do not include wine tasting or food. Wine sampling starts at $1, and glasses of wine are available for menu price.
This event is 21+ only.