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COVID-19 brings changes, cancellations to Bend’s traditional fall events

(Update: Adding video, comment from EDCO)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ)-- October brings numerous traditional fall events in Bend, but like many festivals and events already this year, most are now going virtual or have made significant adjustments because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The BendFilm Festival this year runs Oct. 8-25.

In March, BendFilm stopped all in-person programming at both the Tower Theatre and Tin Pan Theater.

During the summer, they started a pop-up drive in, in the parking lot of Deschutes Brewery and alleyway movie showings right in front of the Tin Pan Theater.

The festival plans to continue that same hybrid model with this fall's event.

BendFilm Executive Director Todd Looby said Friday, “COVID has been a real challenge, to not really see and interact with people, and not be in the same room as them as much. We’ve really found that the drive-in and the screenings in the alley here, as well as the virtual program we’ve been doing -- people got a lot out of them.”

Looby said because of the pandemic, they did take a financial hit, as entertainment and arts over were impacted greatly, but he said the community really pulled them through.

“Really generous and really supportive, and you can tell how important the arts are to the community," Looby said. "Typically, when there is a recession or things, arts are the first thing to not be funded. But our community is kind of making sure that is not going to happen.”

Instead of viewing in person, participants can watch virtually or at the drive-in.

About 40 features and 50 short films will be offered for the movie lovers.

Economic Development of Central Oregon's 17th annual Bend Venture Conference is being held Oct. 15-16.

It's a conference that celebrates entrepreneurship, innovation and connection, as start-ups compete for sizable funding.

Over the past six years, more than $11 million has been invested in 38 companies as a result of the conference.

Elise Rossman, director of marketing and communications with EDCO, said due to COVID-19, organizers have put precautions in place to keep participants safe.

"We just want to make sure that we can bring together people in a healthy way, in a way that benefits them," Rossman said. "In a way that brings everyone together, and gives them a sense of normalcy, in a very un-normal time is what we are striving to do." 

There will still be an in-person component, as multiple venues around the downtown Bend area will be used, to help enforce social distancing. There will also be a virtual, online component this year.

Bend Design Week also will be held virtually this year.

The Bend Design events are for engineers, thinkers, designers and anyone interested in how creative design can help shape the future. It kicks off the week of Oct. 19 through Oct. 22, and is presented by the Scalehouse in Bend.

Other large downtown events like Bend Oktoberfest and the Bend Fall Festival were canceled this year due to the COVID-19 ban on large, in-person events.

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Arielle Brumfield

Arielle Brumfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Arielle here.


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