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BANDON — Without warning and at any given time, the “Gorse Monster” could pop up.

With its unpredictability, the monster surprised and shocked attendees by professing its love of the invasive, highly flammable plant at the annual Gorse Blossom Festival in Bandon’s Old Town Marketplace.

“We’re trying to eradicate gorse in our area,” said festival organizer Rushel Reed of the Greater Bandon Association. “So, when you see the “Gorse Monster” you yell at it to go away.”

All in good fun, the festival celebrated its third year in Bandon over President’s Day weekend raising awareness of the troublesome weed while highlighting an array of local businesses, wine, seafood and beer from throughout its area as well as from around the Pacific Northwest.

The festival, which partners with a variety of local organizations, including the Bandon Historical Museum and the Gorse Action Group, began this year’s activities with an educational lecture and demonstration last Thursday.

According to Reed, the Science Pub lecture, a free event, joined community members and local experts together to discuss the various environmental and economic impacts gorse has in the area.

Along with exploring its historical presence in Bandon, its panel of speakers also talked about various management practices and how to best contain and reduce further gorse from spreading.

This year’s festival featured nearly 30 vendors, 10 musical bands and a handful of educational booths. It also featured its popular Old Town Bandon Pub Crawl and Bloody Mary Stroll as well as number of activities over its four day celebration. Reed estimated close to 2,000 people attended this year’s festival.

“Ultimately, I hope people left with an understanding of Bandon being a destination location where they can come stay overnight and enjoy themselves,” said Reed. “I also hope they walked away with some education about gorse and how they can play a part in preventing it from spreading.”

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Reporter Amanda Linares can be reached at 541-266-2039 or by email at amanda.linares@theworldlink.com.

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