At Northern Lights Theatre Pub, audience members sip riesling and sink forks into chicken breasts as movie families sit down to dinner on the silver screen. Cinema-goers order their meals before sitting down to watch second-run flicks, letting waiters ferry their pulled-pork burritos or Angus burgers right to their seats so they don’t miss a screen couple’s passionate first kiss, tender final embrace, or heartwarming jump from an exploding helicopter. In addition to finger foods, the chefs take their fare up a notch by layering personal pizzas with housemade sauce, sprinkling parmesan cheese and squeezing lemon juice over chicken breasts, and piling pineapple atop their banana splits. Before evening films light up the theaters, Northern Lights’ full-service bar kicks into gear, leading to age restrictions so that moviegoers can freely sip on-tap beers such as Blue Moon and Gilgamesh Mamba or wash down bites with chardonnay and shiraz. In addition to screening blockbuster movies, the theater pub’s three auditoriums occasionally show sports or host live shows such as standup comedy.
Listed in the National Registry of Historic Places, the McDonald Theatre has enjoyed a long, strange history since its establishment in 1925. Originally a community playhouse equipped with both a stage and a screen, the theater found new life in the 1950s when One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest author and psychedelic pioneer Ken Kesey began presenting free cartoons there every Saturday morning. The McDonald spent the next six or so decades as a movie house exclusively, but in 2001, the Kesey family returned, producing concerts and community events under the theater’s enormous proscenium arch. Kesey Enterprises finally purchased the time-weighted stage in 2009, and today the building hosts events ranging from high-school proms to reggae concerts to plumbing-fixture lifting contests.
The River Rock Summer Concert Series spreads out along the bank of the Willamette River, drawing crowds to watch legends and rising stars of rock, blues, and soul strut their stuff. Local Northwest wine and beer offerings are available and food vendors dish up everything from pulled pork and mac and cheese to jambalaya and oyster shooters. Families can enjoy the children’s area presented by Discovery Village with hands on activities such as blowing bubbles or constructing a functional recording booth from giant blocks.
Each year since 1973, on the weekend after Labor Day, engines rumble the very foundation of Sublimity. The Harvest Festival began as a simple tractor pull, and while that event remains a highlight, some of its wheels have gotten considerably bigger and more monstery. And that's not the only thing about the festival that's grown. Now a three-day affair, the schedule bursts at the mid-section with events such as a Fun Run, a parade, a KidZone with bounce houses and rides, and bands and magicians on the Coors Light stage. Yet all the fun and engine flexing is for a good cause. More than 25 community organizations, including the Sublimity Fire Department and Relay for Life, benefit from the festival's proceeds.
West Fest 2011, an outdoor music festival nestled in Wallace Marine Park, entertains concertgoers with a brimming lineup of classic and contemporary rock performers. Headlining musician Chuck Prophet—known for recording alongside Warren Zevon, sharing stage space with Lucinda Williams, and living up to his last name by predicting future events—takes the stage at 8 p.m. with his band The Mission Express. Session guitarist Jeff Pevar from David Crosby side-project CPR opens the night at 6:30 p.m. with a solo performance and three-handed ventriloquist-dummy quartet.
Sharing a roof with its parent organization, The Salvation Army, the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center's fine arts and education program nurtures the dramatic arts with a focus on bringing family-friendly productions to the stage of its Kroc Theater. Big River takes a musical theater approach to Mark Twain's beloved The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and the community-minded cast and crew works hard on their year’s biggest production, giving Mr. Clements his due by putting on a show as thrilling as hitching a ride on the beard of a passing giant. Accompanied by the original award-winning score by Roger Miller, the all-local troupe passionately enacts lively Huck Finn and his valiant effort to help his friend Jim, a slave, reach independence at the mouth of the Ohio River.