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BANDON — The city of Bandon got together to raise awareness about the invasive gorse plant this past weekend at the fourth-annual Gorse Blossom Festival.

Each year the Greater Bandon Association organizes fun events, while partnering with the Gorse Action Group to provide information on how to stop the spread of gorse and remove it.

A family makes a photo in a photo booth Saturday during the annual Gorse Blossum Festival in Bandon.

“The festival is a platform to educate about gorse, because gorse is an invasive plant that is everywhere on the South Coast, and it’s spreading, ” said Rushel Reed with the Greater Bandon Association. “We’re trying to invite people from our surrounding areas to come and learn about it.”

Events for the festival included vendors and live music Friday through Sunday, a Science Pub night at Bandon Brewing Co. on Thursday, and the quick-to-sell-out Sunday Bloody Mary Stroll. The stroll included over-the-top Bloody Marys where participants fill their mugs at participating businesses with tasty sides before getting the drink topped off at the Old Town Marketplace, where the Gorse Blossom Festival was held. 

The idea for the festival began as a way to attract people from out of town to come enjoy themselves in Bandon outside of the summer tourist season.

“The whole concept is can we create a festival in the winter that will put heads in beds," said Greater Bandon Association President Harv Schubothe. "We started with that concept before we started with the gorse concept."

A picture of Lord George Bennett, sits in a photo booth Saturday during the annual Gorse Festival in Bandon. Bennett is credited with founding…

Since gorse is a growing problem all over the Southern Oregon Coast, the Greater Bandon Association decided that the festival would be used to raise awareness about the weed. Gorse was imported to Bandon from Ireland by one of Bandon's founders, Lord Bennett. 

“Besides the locals getting to enjoy the festival, the festival gives local stores and hotels an influx of business,” said Neal Davis with the Greater Bandon Association.

Bandon has had a long history with gorse, most notably it was a contributing factor to the city’s devastating fire in 1936. One of the reasons gorse is so dangerous is because it’s extremely flammable.

“Gorse has an oil in it that is just as flammable as biofuel. It’s taken over Bandon, and it can decrease property values and natural resources,” Gorse Action Group coordinator Rushal Sedlemyer said.

Aside from being available to talk about gorse throughout the festival, the Gorse Action Group hosts the Science Pub night each year.

“With the Science Pub night we were really able to educate some locals about how to control gorse on their property,” Sedlemyer said.

Nicholas A. Johnson can be reached at 541-266-6049, or by email at nicholas.johnson@theworldlink.com.

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