What’s happening for Women’s History Month in Bend?

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What’s happening for Women’s History Month in Bend?

It’s Women’s History Month, and since it just so happens I’m a woman, I’ve got thoughts on why Bend’s a great place to be a girl. 

Between neighborhoods where streets are named for influential women, to clinics like Ladies All Ride camps aimed at honing mountain bike skills, Bend’s brimming with ways to celebrate women. 

Here are some of my favorites.

Sunset view from the Black Butte Trail near Bend, Oregon.

Embrace your adventurous spirit

Bend’s an outdoorsy kinda town, which means there’s zero shortage of groups dedicated to women exploring Bend’s wild places. She Moves Mountains focuses on rock climbing and backpacking retreats for women. SheJumps is a national group aimed at increasing women’s pursuit of outdoor activities, and their Bend chapter has a special focus on skiing. 

Women Who Hike has a local branch that plans hikes and snowshoe excursions meant just for women. If you’re seeking a group with a specialized focus (and by that, I mean you won’t feel self-conscious if you’re built to bench press frailer companions) check out our local chapter of Fat Girls Hiking. For women who love running, Central Oregon Running Klub (CORK) organizes tons of running get-togethers including a Mom Squad that plans stroller-friendly runs.

Want to try something unique? On March 17, Bend Park and Recreation will host their third annual Women Have the Edge hockey event at The Pavillion. It’s a free opportunity for women and girls ages five and up to try hockey and meet new people with a shared interest in ice sports. Special guest Megan Bozek—a two-time Olympian and four-time world champion for the U.S. Women’s Ice Hockey Team—will be on hand, and all equipment including skate rentals will be provided. Registration is required.

Flights Wine Bar in Bend, Oregon.

Celebrate women all year long

While some towns might settle for honoring women only when the calendar says to, Bend celebrates female power all year round. Just scan our event calendar for a sampling. 

It’s also not tough to find pockets of Bend where women take center stage. At the corner of College Way and Newport Avenue sits a cluster of shops that might not seem to have much in common. A scan of their roster reveals businesses like Flights Wine Bar, Birch and Blond hair salon, Verve Health, Groove Yoga, and more. What do they share besides a College Way Corner address? They’re women-owned businesses, and many have offerings meant just for women. Hit Verve to learn about their unique vitamin and medication treatments, then wander to Flights for a women’s wine tasting event. Make a day of it by grabbing lunch at nearby Broken Top Bottle Shop and then strolling between storefronts to see what’s on offer.

BendFilm Festival stands as one of my favorite Bend events each October, and it thrills me to know their Independent Women for Independent Film group works hard to ensure representation for women, female identifying, non-binary, and trans individuals. Bend Women’s Expo takes place in May with a celebration of women, community, creators, and small businesses.

If you’re eager to mark Women’s History Month in March when it happens, look for Bend businesses offering special events and deals. Yoga Shala Bend has a 10% discount on all class packages throughout the month. At Central Oregon Community College, they’re hosting a traveling photo exhibit of Oregon women military vets called “I Am Not Invisible.” It’s created by the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and you can check it out at COCC’s Bend campus March 11-15, in Prineville March 18-22, and in Madras March 25-19.

For more ideas on women-centric ways to experience Bend, hit the Visit Bend website and type “women” in the search bar. While some results won’t be what you’re seeking, you’ll find tons of cool stuff ranging from a women’s speaker series to female brewers crafting tasty beer on the Bend Ale Trail.

Groove to women in music

Live music is my personal passion, and now’s a great time to tune your ear to music made by talented women. 

March’s offering for the popular Jazz at the Oxford series stars the Dear Amy Band featuring the music of Amy Winehouse. On March 10, the Tower Theatre will offer a special concert called She’s Speaking, an event celebrating women songwriters.

Last week, the Fairwell Festival announced their lineup for this summer’s event July 19-21 and I’m not exaggerating when I say I screamed out loud seeing so many of my favorite female performers on the list. The roster includes Brandi Carlile, Katie Pruitt, Leann Rimes, Madeline Edwards, Sarah Jarosz, Madison Cunningham, and so many more. Tickets will go fast, so pounce now if you want to catch one of this summer’s hottest tickets.

At Hayden Homes Amphitheater, the summer concert lineup is still being announced, and there’s already some noteworthy female talent on the schedule. I’m personally pumped for Sarah McLachlan’s show May 28 and for Tegan and Sara to open for Portugal the Man on May  25. Odds are good we’ll see even more amazing women as concert announcements keep coming.

Get a slice of women’s history

Looking for ways to discover how women fit into the history of Bend and Central Oregon? Stop by the Deschutes Historical Museum to learn about women like Ruth Reid (a homesteader and teacher who came to bend in 1904) and Klondike Kate (a former vaudeville performer famous for outlandish costumes and heroic acts like tending the sick during the flu pandemic of 1918). The museum also has a thoughtful array of indigenous artifacts from native peoples of the region.

Same goes for the High Desert Museum, where their collection of Native American crafts like beadwork and woven baskets never fails to take my breath away.

And while the Museum at Warm Springs is temporarily closed for HVAC repairs, it’s worth having on your list for next time you visit Central Oregon and want to learn more about indigenous people in this region.

For a taste of Bend history without hitting a museum, stop by the Pine Tavern. Bend’s landmark eatery is best known for the two pine trees jutting up through the top of the building, but did you know this legendary dining spot was started by two enterprising women? Back in 1936, Maren Gribskov and Eleanor Bechen launched Pine Tavern at a time when our country was barely pulling itself out of the Great Depression. They managed to build a thriving business that still endures with mouthwatering sourdough scones and some of the nicest river views in town.

Blogger Tawna and pup Jack Jack on the Green Lakes Trail.

Yes, you can fly solo

As an avid globetrotter, I’m aware of how common it is worldwide for women to feel unsafe recreating alone. While I won’t pretend Bend’s some crime-free utopia, I can tell you this: On any given day, at least one of my female co-workers will post to our internal message board about lunchtime or post-work plans to go biking, running, SUPing, or skiing solo. Literally every day. We don’t even think about how that’s odd in some parts of the world, and I know that’s tremendous privilege talking.

I’ll also acknowledge that hiking solo isn’t without risk. At the risk of sounding like a scaredy-cat, I’ll admit I feel safer hiking with my husband who’s 10 inches taller and packs a heck of a lot more muscle. That said, I probably hike alone more often than I do with others. That I can do so with relative ease is a privilege I don’t take lightly.

Last summer when my spouse got sick the morning I’d nabbed a Central Cascades Wilderness Permit to hike Green Lakes Trail, I paused before tackling this 10.6-mile trek alone. With a trusty canine companion by my side, we set out hiking, and the first four people I saw on the trail were solo female hikers. Throughout my long day, I’d estimate 95% of the hiking parties I met contained at least one female, with the majority being all-female groups or male/female couples.

Call me nuts, but I don’t think trails look like that everywhere in the world. And I, for one, feel pretty darn grateful that Bend makes it easy to be a woman who plays outside.

Happy trails, everyone!