The official start to summer

A couple of weeks ago there was some consternation at Medford City Hall about the lack of a functioning water fountain at The Commons. In what City Hall saw as a problem, I saw an opportunity.

City officials were waiting for a permit to clear in order to switch on the fountain, which, when operational, will provide kids with a cool water feature and a convenient shower area for Hawthorne Park hobos to wash themselves and their pit bulls.

As far as I know, the fountain should be working sometime this week. I think the city is missing a golden opportunity to usher in the area's flagship festival: Medford Beer Week.

Why not wait to turn on the fountain until June 8, the first day of Beer Week? Take the intervening time to construct a large holding tank for 150,000 gallons of locally crafted beer. Run this beer through the fountain throughout the week. Hell, let the hobos shower in it. It's better than the Colt 45 they swill the other 51 weeks of the year.

The mayor and City Council could kick off the week by flipping the switch to turn on this majestic beer fountain. And as that glorious amber geyser of beer climbs 20 feet into the sky, the mayor and council could then power-chug a pint of Southern Oregon Brewing Woodshed Red. The ceremony would end with our city leaders smashing their empty pint glasses on the ground and letting fly a thunderous, barbaric yawlp, their fists raised high.

And so would begin Medford Beer Week.

It's funny. I've been covering the city of Medford for years now and no one at City Hall ever asks me what I would do to revitalize downtown. I think my beer fountain idea is money in the bank.

Medford Beer Week has been going on for a few years. Sadly, I never make it to most of the events. You see, I work this thing called swing shift. This means I work when people are doing social things, and I do social things when people are sleeping. Sure, I get mornings to myself, but it's a lonely existence and one that precludes me from taking advantage of lovely things such as Beer Week. Or meeting new people. Or speaking to people other than those I work with.

You get the idea. Swing shift is a life suck.

So, while you are stumbling through downtown, seeking out one Beer Week event after another, I'll be putting together the Emergency Services listing, the newspaper industry's singular public shaming feature.

I'm going to miss some cool-looking events this year. For instance, spending a warm, sunlit afternoon at Hanley Farm in Central Point for Brews, Burgers and Bluegrass on Saturday, June 8. Local ranchers are going to grill up local animals to live bluegrass while 16 Southern Oregon brewers pour from noon to 8 p.m.

There is no chance that won't be a worthwhile way to spend a Saturday. I'll be at work, so you all have a good time without your good buddy Chris. Eat a nice blue cheese burger with a pint of Conner Fields Cream Lager, brewed in the Applegate.

I will be off work Monday, June 10, to check out "Wrestling with Mad River," hosted by Mad River Brewing at Jackson Creek Pizza. Word is there is going to be a wrestling costume contest, followed by a public viewing of pro wrestling. Mad River beer will flow. How can I not attend this?

It's good to see one of my favorite new breweries, Apocalypse Brewing, has charged headlong into Medford Beer Week. Apocalypse is hosting a zombie drinking night on Friday, June 14, at its joint on Rossanley Drive. Should be interesting. And they make great beer.

Meanwhile, my favorite Medford bar, the Gypsy Blues, is hosting its own beer festival on June 8 next to its place at 205 W. Eighth St. I've hit it up the past two years and had a great time. Tons of beer taps and music. I cherish the souvenir pint glasses that come with a ticket.

There you have it. Beer is taking over Medford in early June, something that's becoming a rite of passage locally. Can you think of a better way to usher in the beginning of summer?

Now, let's get a signature campaign going for the beer fountain. With hard work I think we can get it on next year's ballot.

(For a full listing of Medford Beer Week events, visit

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email

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