GorgeFest to start HR summer in style

Marathon expansion gives birth to new summer festival

A new summer festival called “GorgeFest” is set to take off next Saturday and Sunday on the Marina Green at the Port of Hood River.

Presented by Lizard Events of Portland, and organized around the annual Columbia River Gorge Marathon and Half Marathon (scheduled for June 1), GorgeFest will feature two new events this year: A half-Ironman distance triathlon and a triathlon Super Sprint.

“Our first priority for GorgeFest is to involve the community of Hood River,” said race organizer Kevin Foreman. “We want to see people come out and join us even if they’re not a world-class athletes. This event is intended for everyone.”

To add to the excitement, Gorge Fest will be featuring music, wine tasting, food and a beer garden. No admission fee is required, and more than 40 local and regional vendors will be on hand.

The festivities will kick off Saturday, May 31, at 2 p.m. with a popular Eugene-based band called “Rhetoric Tuesday.”

From 5-7 p.m. Saturday, people are invited to join the event participants on a Carbo-Dinner Cruise aboard the Sternwheeler. Another cruise is scheduled from 7-9 p.m. for those who want to spend more time at the Marina.

On Sunday, June 1, the fun will begin at 9 a.m. with more sounds from Rhetoric Tuesday. Hood River favorite band “Buds of May” will take the stage at 11 a.m., playing dancehall-style electric bluegrass.

All the while, some 1,500 runners will have already taken to the streets for the 6th-annual Columbia Gorge Marathon and Half Marathon. Three-time winner Dan Menard of Lyle, Wash., is expected to be put to the test by 1997 winner Tom Moritz of Portland, and last year’s winner John Foland of Beaverton.

The early marathon start is scheduled for 6 a.m. on June 1, with the regular start at 7 a.m. The “GorgeMan” Half-Ironman Triathlon will also begin at 7 a.m., with the Super Sprint starting at 7:20 a.m.

Finally, the Half Marathon will take to the streets at approximately 8:30 a.m. By 9:30 a.m., the first marathon finishers should be making their way back to the Marina Green.

In all, more than 1,700 participants from 40 states and five countries are expected to attend GorgeFest this year. Organizers also plan to host 3,000 to 5,000 visitors on each of the two days.

For more information, visit www.gorgefest.com.

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