13th Annual Rhubarb Festival

‘It Was a Magical Weekend’ at the Rhubarb Festival

The 800 granny fruit pies sold out in four hours. Food trucks ran out of fare. Savory bison
burgers on 400 donated brioche buns were devoured, as kids undaunted by chilly weather
cavorted on the water slide. Music blasted from speakers, and dads pushed strollers from booth
to booth. “It was a magical weekend,” said Jamie Donahue, executive director, describing the
Activity Center’s 13th annual Rhubarb Festival – a summer tradition that once again proved
irresistible for hundreds of local families.

More Vendors Accommodated

“We started signing up vendors in January,” she noted. “Requests came in for applications
before they were even ready, and available spaces were almost full by March. Fortunately, with
our newly asphalted parking lot, we’ve been able to accommodate more vendors. We envision
adding about 20 new spaces next year, and making the entire area more shoppable. And, due
to popular demand, we’ll offer lots of rhubarb items.”
Huge Role of Volunteers

Donahue credited Janice Delzer, event coordinator, for “taking on a huge role that included all
vendor communications. She even stayed in touch while in Hawaii on vacation! After some
seven months of work, Janice asked me when the festival was over, ‘what are we doing next?’
She did admit, however, that when first volunteering to help, ‘I had no idea what I was signing
up for!’” said Donahue, who also praised Lori Scott, volunteer coordinator, for her efforts.
“Our volunteers are the reason the Activity Center’s doors stay open, and without them, there
wouldn’t be a Rhubarb Festival,” Donahue emphasized. “For example, the ladies who make our
wildly popular pies had an especially challenging time this year. Because of the long winter,
rhubarb didn’t start growing until two weeks before the event, and we were only able to proceed
with our plans thanks to the generosity of people in the community. ‘Hey, I’ve got rhubarb in my
freezer. Need some?’ was typical.”

Dessert Samples Rescued

Another challenge Donahue and her volunteers faced was notification by the health department
– a few days before the weekend fundraiser – that because of rule changes since 2022, they
couldn’t stage the dessert contest – “one of our most popular attractions,” according to Donahue
— or sell samples. Fortunately, these issues were resolved in time, much to the relief of the
many confection connoisseurs.

Something for Everybody

“The versatility of this year’s vendors (including 25 new ones) really struck me,” Donahue said.
“They offered something for everybody — including a doggie bakery, woodworking creations,
plants, jams, jewelry, canvas paintings, and even bottle wine chimes.
One of the vendors, who helped organize the Bend Farmers Market, told us that she prefers to
be at the Rhubarb Festival – as she has so much fun! A typical promise — as made by Red
Baron after continuously smoking tri-tip and ribs in the parking lot to feed the hungry weekend
crowd – was “I’ll see you next year!”

Flying Canopies Averted

While wanting to thank everyone who helped make the event a success – including drink
vendors (“who really pulled through”), Terry Mowry (who organized all the entertainment), and
Franz Bakery (for its “how many do you need?” donation of burger and hot dog buns) —
Donahue couldn’t resist mentioning Ace Hardware.
“Ace provided two palettes-worth of 50-pound sandbags to help stabilize the vendor tents, which
can become parachutes, as happened last year due to gusts of wind that sent four canopies
secured with bricks flying through the air,” she recalled. “Fortunately, we were blessed with good
weather this time around.”

True Sense of Community

“There was such a warm feeling all day, with people laughing and smiling wherever I looked,”
said Donahue. “There was a true sense of community that I hadn’t seen since Covid, and a
sense of love for our little town. It made your heart happy.”