The South Oregon Coast has been percolating with new energy, and organizers of the inaugural Live Culture Coast are bubbling over with excitement to share it with you. Ten days of experiences, events and education, many of which focus on the different interpretations of the word “culture,” will start Friday, Oct. 18, and continue through Sunday, Oct. 27, on the 135-mile section between Reedsport and Brookings during a choose-your-own-experience festival.

“The whole South Coast is the stage for this,” said Marcus Hinz of the Oregon Coast Visitors Association. “It’s a way to showcase all the new experiences we’ve built in the last five years as well as all the great things already here that people may not have known about. We’ve built it, now they can come.”

The very well-named Amber Peoples is the creative director for the event, which is taking place on what is often referred to as the “People’s Coast” due to the legislation protecting public access to the entire shoreline.

Peoples has been working with farmers, brewers, artists, bakers, chefs and entrepreneurs to create an itinerary of 90 classes and experiences.

“It’s been such an honor connecting with these incredible people and to work with the community and tribal members,” she said. “We’re trying to making sure that we create a message and expand the idea of what is possible.”

Part of the goal of the festival is to create experiences that engage all five senses as a way to truly get to know an area.

“We really wanted to explore the question of what it might look like when we really integrate art, food and place,” Peoples said. “I’m looking forward to the whole event, but the ones that stand out for me are where people have really created something special for the theme, like the Five Senses Hike.”

Many of the festival’s offerings are learning experiences, including three led by Kirsten K. and Christopher Shockey, co-authors of “Fermented Vegetables,” “Fiery Ferments” and their newest, “Miso, Tempeh, Natto and other Tasty Ferments.”

The experiences, all taking place in Brookings, include a lesson in how to make miso, a science pub night covering the microbiome and fermented foods, and an evening session where Chef Andrew Peterson will serve dishes based on the Shockeys’ new book, which can be purchased with your ticket, with the couple acting as culinary tour guides.

The Shockeys didn’t set out to become fermentation experts but are now widely respected authors and teachers on the subject.

“We bought 40 acres over 20 years ago to homestead and raise our kids,” Kirsten said. “We did all the preservation arts including cheese making, and it turned out that a lot of them are based on fermentation.”

A building the couple had originally intended as a cidery instead became a fermentation building as they continued experimenting with what would become a shared passion.

“It was really hard to get information because fermented vegetables were just starting to come back into the public consciousness,” Kirsten said. “So, I tried different things and found out that other than differences in taste it’s pretty hard to get wrong; and if you do, you know pretty quickly.”

After a few years of improving their processes and as people started getting more curious about food fermentation and the connection to gut health, the couple started teaching what they’d learned then started authoring books.

“It was purely dumb luck that everything coincided with our kids growing up and moving out and the growing interest in fermentation,” Kirsten said. “We really enjoyed sharing how versatile these foods can be and how you can put them in your life very easily. Once you’ve learned the magic, you can ferment anything you want any way you want.”

The couple have found that increasingly, people come to their workshops already knowing their work and are looking for a chance to ask questions or see things done firsthand.

“Folks can have a real experience and also connect with other people interested in the same things they are,” Kirsten said. “Often people in our workshops leave having made new friends.”

This is one case in which curiosity may leave the cat unharmed.

“If people are even somewhat curious about fermentation they should dive in,” Kirsten said. “It’s fun, it’s safe and it’s worth exploration.”

To make it less overwhelming to consider all the different things going on during the event, Peoples said the offerings can be viewed as fitting into three different baskets:

Food and Farm

In addition to learning new skills like vegetable preservation, bread baking and how to create healthy beverages like ginger brew and kombucha, people can try all kinds of products made by experts. Beer and cider tastings, coffee roasting education and tastings, and a “Redneck Wine Tasting and Bowling Night,” can take care of your beverage pallet. And for a fuller culinary experience, sign up for events like the “Lake to Table” meal, which includes fir tips, fresh-caught fish, foraged foliage and other coastal treats combined in a multi-course feast served at Wulfy Beach on the shores of Tenmile Lake. Many of the businesses involved in the event are also part of the newly launched Wild Rivers Coast Food Trail, which highlights the local crafters and growers on the South Coast. For more information, go to www.wrcfoodtrail.com.

Arts and Culture

Helping to kick of the event and taking place in historic Gardner at the northernmost tip of the territory, will be a full-day writers symposium focused on the craft and creativity of storytelling for current and aspiring writers. No matter your chosen genre (memoir, short fiction, novel, haiku) four professional writers and writing instructors will help you develop your voice in a supportive environment.

Plenty of other opportunities abound for creatives of all types, including mosaic making, screen printing, collograph printing, fused glass making, monoprinting and even designing with succulents.

In the nature materials collage workshop, you will use objects from the coast — driftwood, rocks, shells and sand, to create Pacific-inspired art, giving you a creative way to bring the event home with you.

For those who prefer letting others do the writing, there is a double author reading, book signing and reception for an herb-loving botanist and a sealife-loving biologist — ask any question about growing herbs or South Coast sea creatures, no matter how great or small.

Nature and Place

There are many ways to get to know an area and touring on two wheels is one of the best. But if you need to leave your bike at home, sign up for the fat biking trip, which cruises the sands at Gold Beach.

Another great way to explore is by water; experience Coos Bay or the Coquille River on the “Fun Sway,” a historic replica of a hand built “junk boat.”

Creating nature in place is the theme of the natural building workshop, where you will first tour the Cob Cottages building demonstration site at SustainableU, then get your feet into the clay and mix your own cob or earthen plaster.

Other immersion events include a photography hike and a mushroom foray with Myrtle Glen Farms, who will share their techniques for cultivation of shiitakes, oyster and king Stropharia mushrooms, give a short course in mushroom biology then lead a hike to find forest fungi.

Whether you plan to pack your itinerary with experiences or dabble in just a few, Live Culture Coast is immersive by design. Art installations created specifically for the event will be viewable along the route, as well as posted poetry created for a “Burma Shave”-style contest, open now for potential poets with cash prizes for the top eight winners (the top three will be made into retro road signs.) A “Culture Stand” will also travel the event route, with maps and information, last-minute class registration, Live Culture Coast schwag and even local vendor samples. Poetry contest rules and culture stand stops will be listed on the event website.

You can even cache in on brand new geocache locations specially set up for the event during “Cache the Coast.” Each cache will hold special souvenirs for you to find — locate all the caches and you’ll be eligible for even more prizes. Go to www.liveculturecoast.org/cache-the-coast for more information.

Go to www.liveculturecoast.org for information and registration, and to purchase a downloadable map with posted stops and information about events and classes.

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