Pickathon brings thousands to Happy Valley

HAPPY VALLEY, Ore. -- For many music fans on the west coast, Sasquatch in the Gorge Ampitheatre and Coachella near Los Angeles are annual pilgrimages. But a smaller festival right outside of Portland has been building a reputation as the best place to find your next favorite band.

Free of Top-40 headliners and suffocating crowds, Pickathon in Happy Valley has become a showcase of up-and-coming musical talent, as well as a celebration of seminal bands.

Founder Zale Schoenborn of Portland started the fest with a few friends sixteen years ago. Now, thousands of people flock to Pendarvis Farm every year for what may be the most sustainable music festival in the country.

Instead of paper plates and plastic cups, an exchange system lets festivalgoers pay $10 for a token and trade that for compostable dinnerware at food carts. At the end of the festival, they can even keep the products, which last for years.

Kleen Kanteen steel glasses substitute for stacks of solo cups at beer stations, and a "leave no trace" mentality is strictly enforced.

Kids are also welcome at Pickathon and the miles of trails winding through the woods are often filled with makeshift bands of children, performing on banjos and violins.

This year, the most-anticipated music acts include roots trio Nickel Creek, Portland-based indie band Blind Pilot, legendary punk rockers X. But, like always, the bands you've never heard of are the ones most likely to wind up on your playlist after the festival.

View Pickathon photo gallery


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