There will be berries galore in Portland, Ore., July 22-23 as the state’s berry organizations combine forces to stage the first Oregon Berry Festival.

“It’s going to be a fantastic event,” said Cat McKenzie, marketing director for the Corvallis-based Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission.

“The Ecotrust building has offered their space in a historic building and we’ll have a farmers market with organic and conventional farmers of raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and cranberries. We’re also organizing a trade show of value-added products, from barbecue sauce to jam.”

Portland’s famous food carts will serve berry-filled crepes, ice cream and cupcakes, McKenzie said, and there will be children’s entertainment, cooking demonstrations, a berry cook-off with six top chefs and a gala dinner.

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The event is being financed by a $48,100 grant from the Oregon Department of Agriculture, through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to help specialty crops become more competitive.

“This festival is going to help us be more competitive in the marketplace by showcasing Oregon berries as a premium crop,” McKenzie said.

“We have the perfect climate for growing berries, and the rise of farmers markets and sales to local restaurants have created a new market for fresh.”

Oregon is the country’s largest producer of blackberries with more than 50 varieties — particularly the premium marionberry variety — and black raspberries, McKenzie said.

Interest in fresh local strawberries is also rising, she said, but you have to come to Oregon to get them.

“The season is only a few weeks long, but demand is still incredibly high locally for hood and totem varieties,” she said.

“The Oregon strawberry is red all the way through, which adds a deep color to food products such as yogurt and premium ice cream.”