Cheap & Easy

The Best Bang for Your Buck Events in Portland This Weekend: Sept 29–Oct 1, 2023

Widmer Brothers Oktoberfest, Fall in Love with Lents, and More Cheap & Easy Events Under $15
September 29, 2023
Beer will be flowing at the Widmer Brothers Oktoberfest. (Widmer Brothers Brewing via Facebook)
There are bountiful fall feels throughout the events we're recommending for this weekend, from the 19th Annual Widmer Brothers Oktoberfest to Portland Cider Co.'s Apple Pressing Party and from Fall in Love with Lents: Really Free Night Market & East PDX Art Fest to a Mid-Autumn Carnival hosted by HeyDay and Portland Cà Phê.

Jump to: Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Multi-Day



Lez Stand Up : In-the-Round Past Event List
Gather 'round, ladies and theydies: Your fave queer comedy show will return for another installment, with special guests Ally J, Quinne Salameh, Kirsten Kuppenbender, and Two Evils co-host Arlo Weierhauser hitting center stage. (Literally—they'll perform in the center of the room, so you can fulfill your dream of seeing a comedian from both the front and the back.) On top of being a barrel full of queer chuckles, the show is a great excuse to check out the new-ish Siren Theater space on Mississippi. LC
(Siren Theater, Boise, $15)


Mid-Autumn Carnival Past Event List
HeyDay owner Lisa Nguyen and Portland Cà Phê owner Kimberly Dam are teaming up to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival in style, inspired by their nostalgic childhood memories of the holiday. The festivities include carnival games, a performance by Stephanie Vo, fresh blooms from Oun Srey Floral, special drinks from Portland Cà Phê, mooncakes from HeyDay, and a glowing lantern parade that will light up the evening starting at 7 pm. JB
(CORE, Lents)


Music in The Garden Past Event List
Each Friday in October, Louis Lim will soundtrack your stroll through Lan Su's tranquil pathways with traditional Chinese music played on the erhu (a two-stringed vertical instrument) and the ruan quin (a long-necked, 13-fret string instrument). In my opinion, gardens such as Lan Su Chinese Garden are highly underutilized in autumn. Don't miss the opportunity to catch the trees just as the leaves start to turn—beautiful! AV
(Lan Su Chinese Garden, Old Town-Chinatown, Free with garden admission)

Teddy Bear Orchestra, Møtrik, and Glass Cameo Past Event List
If you're thinking: "Surely the Teddy Bear Orchestra can't be what it sounds like..." I have some bad news. They're an ensemble of animatronic teddy bears that thrash on instruments behind a human frontman called Herr Konductor like something out of a haunted Chuck E. Cheese. The whole thing is kind of cursed—I know because I just spent 20 minutes on their Instagram account. They will perform alongside American krautrockers Møtrik and local outfit Glass Cameo. AV
(Mission Theater, Northwest Portland, $15-$20)


Snap! Y2K: Back to School Flannel Party Past Event List
With autumn in full swing, the beloved monthly dance night Snap! Y2K will celebrate back-to-school season with genre-spanning sounds of the early '90s through the early '00s (courtesy of resident DJs Colin Jones and Introcut). No need to rush to Staples for school supplies the night before—all this party requires is a cozy flannel!
(Holocene, Buckman, $10)



St. Johns Fall Fling and Plaza Clock Dedication Past Event List
Enjoy a neighborhood-wide celebration dedicated to the changing season and newly restored historic clock in St. Johns Plaza. There will be mini horses, hula-hooping, live jazz, children's activities, and more. Fill up a stamp card by visiting local businesses and eateries and be entered to win gift cards and merch. Did someone say free clock stickers? SL
(St. Johns Plaza, St. Johns, free)


Finding Her Beat Benefit Screening and Live Taiko Performance Past Event List
Those who bump along to the beat of their own drum should show up to this screening in support of Portland Taiko, a local performance group that drums throughout the Pacific Northwest, offers classes and workshops, and conducts team-building workshops. They'll screen the 2022 documentary Finding Her Beat, which centers an all-female, boundary-breaking taiko troupe (the Japanese drumming art was off-limits to women for centuries). World-famous taiko player Tiffany Tamaribuchi, who recently moved to Portland to take on the artistic director role at Portland Taiko, will also perform live before the film. LC
(Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District, $8-$10)


Portland Cider Co. Apple Pressing Party Past Event List
Get those forearms ready, Portland Cider is hosting a community apple pressing party to turn tens of thousands of pounds of donated fruit into delicious cider! The Community Cider will be released next month, with proceeds donated to Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, a nonprofit dedicated to ending childhood hunger in our state. At the party, take a break from pressing apples to enjoy games, face painting, and food and drink specials, like boozy cider slushies. SL
(Portland Cider Company, Clackamas, free)

19th Annual Widmer Brothers Oktoberfest Past Event List
For a free, all-ages Oktoberfest option, check out this party from Widmer Brothers Brewing, which will offer special beers, food vendors, live music, and dancing. This year's music lineup features talented locals Laryssa Birdseye, Hayley Lynn, Hiroki, and Fox and Bones. SL
(Rose Quarter Commons, Lloyd District, free; beer mug and tokens available for sale)


Erin Rae Past Event List
On her latest album Lighten Up, Erin Rae injects her classic folk/country with a healthy dose of '70s glam rock (think: Emmylou Harris backed by T. Rex). The album's opening track "Candy & Curry" immediately stood out with the lyrics "I'm pickin' little purple violets from out in the side yard / I am learning wildflower recipes / I am practicing sun salutations." This is word-for-word what I was doing throughout the pandemic! However, even if you didn't find yourself in the depths of urban foraging TikTok during 2020 (shoutout to my girl Alexis Nikole) or practicing YouTube yoga, the song stands as an ode to all those little domestic hobbies that we picked up in our free time. She will play tracks off the new album after an opening set from indie folk artist Skyway Man. AV
(Mississippi Studios, Boise, $15)


Auxiliary Routes Past Event List
In 2023, Old Pal launched a thoughtful artist series to adorn the walls of the Southeast Portland restaurant. The restaurant itself is also fairly new, launched last spring by Jeremy Larter and Emily Bixler. Old Pal boasts selections from both land and sea, with fresh Oregon produce and wines at the forefront of the menu. Good food doesn’t need beautiful art to go along with it, but it sure doesn’t hurt. This season’s artistic creations are Nicole Neu’s abstracted fibrous wall-hung sculptures, the forms of which play in the space between organic and ridged. MERCURY CONTRIBUTOR ASHLEY GIFFORD 
(Old Pal, Sunnyside, free)



PDX Recovery Film Festival Past Event List
Presented by Portland peer-led recovery support nonprofit Bridges to Change, this annual festival spotlights films centered around homelessness, substance use, mental health, and incarceration, aiming to increase visibility, create space for storytelling, and inspire some much-needed hope. This year's lineup of short films includes several I'm stoked about, including Emmy-nominated filmmaker Moni Vargas's Audrey's Poem and activist Mark Horvath's Peer Supervised Drug Consumption Site, among many others. LC
(Revolution Hall, Buckman, $15)


Happy Birthday Zuckercreme: A Corn-Themed Pop-Up Past Event List
Corn isn't just a summertime treat for the folks at Zuckercreme—it's a lifestyle. (We're sure they'd be happy to tell you all about it.) They'll celebrate their second anniversary with a corn-tastic day, packed with elote, corn-topped hot dogs, popcorn, corn ice cream, corn pastries, and adorable corn-inspired decor. The event will feature sweets from Omija Home Bakes, Hound Dog Ice Cream, and Email My Heart; food from Bobbie's Boat Sauce and The Street Corn Dude; and snacks from Sao Noi and Koa Roots. Be sure to RSVP for free on their website to secure your spot. JB
(Zuckercreme, Montavilla)


A.A. Williams Live at Music Millennium Past Event List
Much like fellow queen-of-the-darkness Chelsea Wolfe, A.A. Williams uses the metal genre's dark aesthetics and sludgy pacing for haunting alt-rock ballads. This weekend, the London-based musician will treat Portlanders to a free in-store performance and signing in support of her 2022 album As The Moon Rests. AV
(Music Millennium, Kerns, free)



Bella Organic Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze Past Event List
Every fall, Bella Organic Farms makes a statement with their corn maze, and this year they're targeting gun violence with "a simple message of love from a simple farmer.” Enjoy a hot cup of apple cider over a game of trivia about the maze, and compete with your family and friends inside the maze to win a Clue-inspired game. Starting October 1, you can hitch a free hayride over to the pumpkin patch to pick out your own gourd for carving, painting, or simply placing on your porch for max autumnal vibes. If you're a thrill seeker, stop by after dark on Fridays and Saturdays to experience their haunted corn maze. SL
(Bella Organic Pumpkin Patch & Winery, Sauvie Island, $0-$12, Friday-Sunday)

Chapman Swift Watch Past Event List
Because you live in Portland, you are surrounded by folks whose idea of a good time is gazing at Vaux's swifts—a species of dark, tiny-bodied aerialists that like to roost in hollow spaces—as they gracefully funnel into an elementary school chimney each sunset in September. Their numbers vary; sometimes you'll see 5,000, and in mid-September, up to 15,000, as they migrate to Mexico and Central America. Their evening ritual is nothing short of poetic, a visual display that would make Mary Oliver weep. Therefore, arrive early and anticipate fighting for parking. (If you're as lucky as I was last week, you might also witness a Cooper's hawk tucked to one side of the chimney, awaiting a teensy swift snack.) LC
(Chapman Elementary School, Northwest Portland, free, Friday-Sunday)

The MAiZE at the Pumpkin Patch Past Event List
Join us in shouting "It's corn!!!" while exploring almost two miles of pathways through the famous MAiZE on Sauvie Island. This premier destination for fall enthusiasts pays homage to its 25th year in business with this year's design. The maze has two parts: warm up with the "easy" section before tackling the more difficult part, and don't forget your boots, it can get muddy out there. SL
(The Pumpkin Patch, Sauvie Island, $0-$10, Friday-Sunday)

Oregon Potters Association Fall Fair Past Event List
Grab your pumpkin spice latte and strap on some little brown booties, because this ceramics sale at the scenic Cornell Farm is the perfect place to channel Christian Girl Autumn. You'll find handmade wares from over 30 Oregon Potters Association-affiliated ceramicists and artists to spruce up your living space, plus holiday decor and autumnal plantings. The three-day, market-style event will serve up an assortment of "freshly-baked autumnal pastries," and you can snag selfies at a pumpkin patch decked out with hay bales, locally grown pumpkins, and contest-winning scarecrows. LC
(Cornell Farm, Cedar Mill, free, Friday-Sunday)


Dahlia Festival Past Event List
Grab your camera and your allergy meds and get ready to experience 40 acres of dahlias and a stunning indoor display of over 370 varieties. Floral novices and aficionados alike can sign up for flower arranging and crafts classes, listen to flower care lectures, take a bunch of flowers home, and more. Check out the farmers market every Sunday, listen to local bands perform on weekends, or grab a bite to eat from a rotating selection of food carts. SL
(Swan Island Dahlias, Canby, free, Friday-Saturday)

Fall in Love with Lents: Really Free Night Market & East PDX Art Fest Past Event List
The East Portland neighborhood is once again vying for your affection during this multi-day event that will build community and highlight art. The Really Free Night Market on Friday aims to counteract capitalism by sharing—resources, care, crafts, and more. The goal is to showcase abundance, recycling, reusing, and creativity. The evening will be capped off with a late night queer comedy show. On Saturday, the East PDX Art Fest features live performances from local musicians, drag artists, and dance teams. SL
(Lents Masonic Lodge, Lents, free, Friday-Saturday)


Bottoms Past Event List
Considering the glut of raunchy high school sex comedies that revolved around hetero teen boys attempting to pop their cherries in the '90s and early-aughts, it's about time we had a horny romp about queer girls trying to get laid. In this madcap dark comedy helmed by Emma Seligman (director of the nail-biter Shiva Baby), two hapless losers (played by Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri) scheme to start a self-defense club for women in order to hook up with their cheerleader crushes (Havana Rose Liu and Kaia Gerber). Naturally, hilarity ensues. It's Book Smart meets Fight Club with acerbic shades of Heathers, and I for one can't wait to see Seligman's sapphic Gen-Z take on this campy genre, especially with the two leads' deadpan delivery. JB
(Cinema 21, Nob Hill, Friday-Sunday)

Dumb Money Past Event List
You're either going to be completely jazzed to see a film about the David-and-Goliath GameStop short squeeze of 2021, in which users of the subreddit r/wallstreetbets initiated a short squeeze on GameStop stocks and collapsed the investment firm Melvin Capital, or it's going to sound mind-numbingly dull. Those of you in the first camp will be pleased to know that Ben Mezrich’s book The Antisocial Network has been adapted into a film, so you'll get to witness a ragtag team of amateur investors and internet denizens topple Wall Street on a big screen. Even better, Dumb Money stars a cast of dudes born to play Redditors and hedge fund psychos, including Paul Dano, Pete Davidson, Vincent D'Onofrio, Sebastian Stan, and Nick Offerman. Bring your favorite finance bro. LC
(Cinema 21, Northwest Portland, $9-$11, Friday-Sunday)

Stop Making Sense Past Event List
Calling it now: If you've seen Stop Making Sense, it's probably your favorite concert film. It's jangly and arty and all of the other words one might use to describe Talking Heads's catalog, and David wears the suit. Not feeling the Byrne? Listen, I know watching a concert movie for a band you don't listen to sounds like hell, but this one might be an exception. If you haven't seen it yet, anticipate looking back on the experience with a funny fondness later, like a good birthday party or the first time you smoked weed. Jonathan Demme (yes, the guy who went on to make The Silence of the Lambs) recorded all of the concert footage over the course of three days at Hollywood's Pantages Theatre in 1983, during the height of the Heads' visionary fame. It's screening in a new restoration, so prep for a "once in a lifetime" experience. LC
(Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District, $10-$12, Friday-Sunday)


Fresh Hop Pop-Up Beer Fest Past Event List
Just can't get enough fresh hops? This 17-day-long pop-up hop extravaganza will showcase the hyper-seasonal specialty in all its glory with special tappings every day from "some of the best and brightest breweries and regions." The programming closes out with a lineup of freshies from Seattle breweries on Saturday and a showcase of Fort George's six fresh hop beers for 2023. Scoop up some nosh from the Prost! Marketplace's 10 resident food trucks while you're at it. JB
(Prost! Marketplace, North Portland, Friday-Sunday)


2023 CoHo Clown Festival Past Event List
Whether you're a literal clown or a simple clown appreciator, you'll want to honk your horn and slap on a gigantic pair of shoes for the second annual edition of this four-week fringe festival celebrating all things clownery. CoHo Clown Festival includes an absurdist mix of physical comedy, workshops, and movement performances, building community between artists and audiences with a wide range of jolly performances. It transforms CoHo's little black box theater into a central hub for circus artists across the country to engage in "playful whimsy," which sounds good for the soul. Go forth and get your clown on. LC
(CoHo Productions, Slabtown, Pay-What-You-Can, Friday-Sunday)


Holding Fire: Fuel Ladder Past Event List
It's getting warm in here: Eugene-based research collective Fuel Ladder pulls together artists, designers, and thinkers whose work explores climate crisis through wildfire. The collective's current exhibition at Well Well Projects, Holding Fire, digs into wildfire's "cycles of both destruction and renewal" through a diverse range of perspectives. William Bonner uses installation pieces to "highlight and communicate the importance and beauty of living processes," while David Buckley Borden’s place-based projects "use humorous combinations of visual art and landscape design to center environmental issues within everyday phenomena." I'm particularly intrigued by Sasha Michelle White’s practice, which centers fire-adapted plants, and Nancy Silvers' work, which explores identity and ecology at "scales that range from a single thread to acres of landscape" through textiles and other mediums. LC
(Well Well, Kenton, free, Saturday-Sunday; closing)

Imaginary Shelter Past Event List
Merging half-remembered buildings and carefully observed vegetation from her past, the paintings in Heather Lee Birdsong's Imaginary Shelter depict long-gone scenes of her demolished childhood home, sites of wildfire, and former houses and apartments. The result feels like a carefully excavated reflection on modern living in the face of climate change, which often involves migration, rentals, displacement, disposable architecture, housing instability, and semi-nomadic lifestyles. Drawing from both Pacific Northwestern and Mojave Desert landscapes, Birdsong aims to understand home as both a physical place and a deeper feeling of belonging. LC
(Carnation Contemporary, Kenton, free, Saturday-Sunday; closing)

Pat Boas: Idiom Past Event List
Pat Boas, professor emerita of Art Practice in the School of Art + Design at Portland State University, will share new paintings in this solo exhibition that "push[es] the boundaries" of her signature abstract style. Frequently using letter forms and the written word as a conceptual starting point, Boas has built a word-as-image aesthetic that develops further in Idiom with layered paintings "akin to Cubist still-lifes." The geometric, yet atmospheric paintings bring together fragments of shape and color in pursuit of new meanings. LC
(Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Pearl District, free, Friday-Saturday; closing)

Threads | Þræðir Intertwined in Iceland: Textiles and Book Arts Past Event List
A certain Icelandic saying—Glöggt er gests augað, or "the guest has a clear eye,” seems to apply to this group exhibition, which juxtaposes works by Icelandic artists with pieces by those who've visited the country. Threads | Þræðir Intertwined in Iceland: Textiles and Book Arts "presents an Icelandic view, but reflects on how an outsider's perspective can contribute to an understanding of landscape and culture." If you're still lamenting the loss of the historic Oregon College of Art and Craft, this is the art show for you; weaving, embroidery, and natural dyeing techniques will be on display alongside artists' books inspired by Icelandic traditions. Bonus tip: Head outside to peep Thomas Dambo's newly installed 19-foot troll sculpture nestled between the trees on Nordic Northwest's campus. LC (Multiple dates through November 5, 9 am, Nordic Northwest, Metzger, free)

Volver a ver / To see again Past Event List
Mexico City-born, Santa Monica-based artist Georgina Reskala's silver gelatin prints on linen and silk have an ethereal, moody quality, depicting abstracted nature imagery and silhouetted figures in long exposures. In Volver a ver / To see again, each photograph is altered through physical manipulation—Reskala unthreads the weft of the linen or layers multiple images over each other. The results feel like eerie reflections on past memories and the mind's tendency to twist them at will. LC
(PDX CONTEMPORARY ART, Slabtown, free, Friday-Saturday; closing)

Will Rawls: [siccer] Past Event List
You might've seen Will Rawls's work recently—the New York-based artist has popped up with installations and exhibitions at Adams and Ollman and the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle over the last few years. As a choreographer, performance artist, curator, and writer, Rawls's work is wide-reaching, and [siccer] is no exception. It's part-live performance, part-stop-motion animation, and its title references the Latin adverb sic (you typically see it used in brackets to denote an “error” when quoting someone, underscoring the perceived inaccuracy of their speech). To Rawls, "[sic] is a useful metaphor for how the language and gestures of Black bodies are captured, quoted or misquoted, and circulated to appear strange in various media." As a writer, I'm excited to see how Rawls interrogates the limits of citation. LC
(PICA, Eliot, $0-$10, Friday-Sunday)

Willy Heeks: Contours of Instinct and Nuance Past Event List
Nationally renowned abstract expressionist Willy Heeks will showcase new works after taking a pause from painting during the pandemic. In Contours of Instinct and Nuance, Heeks maintains his familiar graffiti-like aesthetic and sweeping brushwork, but balances it with "fractal details" and geometric elements. The fresh approach makes it clear that Heeks, who was born in 1951, has no intention of stopping his complex, improvisational explorations in paint anytime soon. LC
(Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Pearl District, free, Friday-Saturday; closing)

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