Entertainment and Events
Dune Mushers Mail Run
The Dune Mushers Mail Run (www.oregondunemushers.com) is a noncompetitive endurance dogsled run held annually the first weekend in March. This is the world’s longest organized dry-land run for dogsled teams. Small teams of 3–5 dogs and larger teams of 5–10 dogs haul mushers on wheeled buggies over 70 miles of dunes from North Bend to Florence.
The smaller teams start off from Horsfall Beach on Friday, while the larger teams leave the next morning. En route, spectators have opportunities to watch the teams as they pass through Spinreel Park, Winchester Bay, Gardiner, and Florence’s South Jetty area, to finish up with a parade through Old Town Florence on Sunday.
The “mail” carried by the dog teams are commemorative envelopes, which are sold as souvenirs to support the event.
Oregon Coast Music Festival
The first event of note in summer is the Oregon Coast Music Festival (P.O. Box 663, Coos Bay 97420, 541/267-0938 or 877/897-9350, www.oregoncoastmusic.com), which runs for two weeks in mid-July and has been going on for more than 25 years. Coos Bay is the central venue for these south coast classical, jazz, pop, and world music concerts, but Bandon, North Bend, Charleston, and other neighboring burgs host some performances as well. Tickets to some events are free, with tickets to the majority of events under $20.
Blackberry Arts Festival
In late August, the ubiquitous Oregon blackberry is celebrated with the Blackberry Arts Festival (541/888-1095 or 541/888-6572). Food and wine-tasting booths, a juried arts-and-crafts show, and entertainers fill the Coos Bay Mall (Central Ave. in downtown Coos Bay).
Prefontaine Memorial Run
In mid-September, perhaps the best-known Bay Area sports celebrity, Steve Prefontaine, is honored with a 10K race and two-mile walk in the annual Prefontaine Memorial Run (541/269-1103, www.prefontainerun.com). Prefontaine was a world-class runner whose gutsy style of running and record performances made him a major sports personality until his premature death at age 24 in 1974. Many top-flight runners pay homage by taking part in the race. Events begin and end at the runner’s alma mater, Marshfield High School (4th St. and Anderson Ave., Coos Bay).
Oregon Shorebird Festival
Perhaps the best place to see migratory shorebirds in the Northwest each fall is the Oregon Shorebird Festival on Cape Arago, taking place the second weekend in September. Boat trips out to see albatrosses and other seldom-seen species that frequent the open ocean, along with excursions to the Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge and to Coos Bay to see plovers, loons, and a variety of other shorebirds, are arranged through the Cape Arago Audubon Society (541/267-7208 or 541/756-5688).
The Egyptian Theater (229 S. Broadway, Coos Bay, 541/267-3456, www.egyptian-theater.com) is an extremely well-preserved movie palace with a dramatic pharaonic motif that goes back to the 1920s, when many small towns took to emulating the opulence and foreign intrigue of such big-city movie houses as Graumann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. A nonprofit organization arranged to buy the theater when former owners decided to sell in 2005, and after loving restoration, the theater serves both as movie theater (mostly to classic films on Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday matinees) and for a variety of other performance and community uses. Check out the website to find out what’s on while you’re here—the booming Wurlizter organ alone is worth the price of admission.
On Broadway Thespians
The players of the On Broadway Thespians (www.onbroadwaytheater.com) stage a changing program of live theater throughout the year, ranging from current Broadway dramas to splashy musicals to children’s entertainment. The performances are staged at a variety of sites in the Coos Bay area, including the historic Egyptian Theater.
Occupying the former bayside site of the Weyerhaeuser mill alongside U.S. 101 in North Bend, the Mill Casino (3201 Tremont Ave., North Bend, 541/756-8800 or 800/953-4800, www.themillcasino.com) is operated by the Coquille Native American people. Open 24 hours a day, the casino offers blackjack, lots o’ slots, poker, and bingo. A large hotel, lounge, and several restaurants are on-site. Nightly entertainment includes jazz and R&B, while headliners lean toward country performers such as Wynonna and Kenny Rogers.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel