Empire District, various venues
What do bivalves and blown-glass art have in common? Simple: they share the spotlight at one the south coast’s most joyous and intriguing community festivals, the Clamboree & Glass Art Festival, held each summer in Coos Bay’s historic Empire District. Founded as Empire City in 1853, the town ultimately voted to become part of Coos Bay in 1965. The district occupies the bayfront on the west edge of the city, once a thriving working waterfront. The entirety of the Coos Bay estuary system has long been famous for excellent clamming prospects, so much so that to this day the gaper clam is locally called an Empire clam.
Clamboree & Glass Art Festival – Top USA Festivals Photo Gallery
Fittingly, clams are a big part of Clamboree, served up in a variety of delectable forms by food vendors—clam chowder, grilled clams, clam hoagies, and even clam cakes. Many other wonderful foods are available, and adults
Kids love the tractor train at the Clamboree & Glass Art Festival.
21 and over can partake in local craft ales from 7 Devils Brewing or choose wine or even spirits. Meanwhile, the festival’s other top-billed attraction, the glass blowers, demonstrate and sell their intricate and beautiful creations, while an eclectic lineup of live music entertains fest-goers throughout the day. In addition to live music, Clamboree always serves up new entertainment surprises, which over the years have included folk dancers, a drum group, a magician, hula dancers and ukulele players, and old-time fiddlers.
Moreover, one of the most popular events at this congenial festival is a one-of-a-kind in Oregon, the annual Hollerin’ Contest, held at the aptly named Hollering Place Wayside. In this case, the Hollerin’ Contest is intricately tied to local history: Coos Bay is a narrow inlet, about a half mile across from Empire to the North Spit. The actual Hollering Place is across the bay from the wayside; Native Americans would stand on the north side of the bay and holler across the channel for a ride to the other side. Someone from the village would then canoe across to get them. When white settlers arrived, they adopted the same custom. Today this tradition carries on in the jovial Hollerin’ Contest, in which contestants belt out as many decibels as they can muster, with their lungpower measured with a meter. The most boisterous contestants in each of three categories—men, women, and kids—win prizes donated by local merchants.
Clamboree stretches for several blocks, and along the way are a host of other activities, including open houses with demonstrations, interpretive displays, and sales at the Coos Bay Boat Building Center, the beautiful historic Tower House (built in 1872 and now a B&B), and the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Tribal Hall. There is no admission fee; just show up on Saturday morning, park at one of lots at or near the waterfront, and spend the day in revelry.