Lucy Dacus plays in the woods at Pendarvis Farm during Pickathon 2017. ##Photo Provided

Pick-y Palate

By Mark Stock

Music festivals are generally about just that: music. Not Pickathon. The smallish gathering of big and rising bands on a farm just outside Portland in Happy Valley hosts an evolving list of local restaurants and wineries, making it a model festival in terms of food and drink.

Wineries Harper Voit, Guild Winemakers, Whoa Nelly and Dominio IV joined restaurants Bunk Sandwiches, Podnah’s Pit, Pine State Biscuits and others in treating fans to local flavor, a movement gaining increasing momentum in the world of music fests.

For years, places like Maryhill Winery in the Gorge have made a living from music in their own impressive amphitheater. The often sprawling grounds of breweries and vineyards make for ideal concert settings and are increasingly getting in on the act. And, as the nation’s palate continues to sharpen — thanks to an all-embracing craft movement — it’s only natural ticketholders are looking for quality food and drink.

In its 19th year, Pickathon draws around 3,000 people to Pendarvis Farm. This year’s festival collaborated with chefs to create six intimate culinary experiences for 55 lucky participants, featuring mixologists and a musical performance, finishing with a communal meal. It’s an extremely Oregonian touch and fitting for a farm.

Added credit is owed to Pickathon’s pronounced sustainability efforts. It proudly proclaims to be a zero-waste event, and while probably not the case on a purely technical level, the many compost stations, absence of disposable dishes and cups and recycling areas suggest an extremely green ethos. 

The only way Pickathon could improve is if it started inviting vintners to pour and discuss their wares. The crowd, a mixed bag of hipsters, young families and aging Dead Heads, would surely be intrigued by winegrowers occupying a farm during the long weekend. But that can be filed in a very small suggestions box for next year.

As far as music festivals go, Pickathon is a real leader in terms of size, setting and access to a fair slice of the local food and drink scene. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that the bill of bands is ever reliable, making whatever local beverage that’s in your cup all the better.

Mark Stock is a freelance writer based in Portland. Discover more of his work at

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