LEBANON — Mid-valley supporters of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders haven't given up hope he'll someday sit in the Oval Office.
In the meantime, however, they want to celebrate all their candidate has accomplished this campaign season, all the work they've accomplished to help get his word out, and all they see that remains to be done to carry forward his message of progressive politics.
The free music festival starts at noon this Sunday at Ralston Park, 925 Park St. in Lebanon.
At least eight bands are scheduled to play, featuring rock, indie, folk, bluegrass, world beat and "American roots" music. Visitors also are invited to browse food trucks, face-painting booths, bubble stations and children's activities.
Volunteers are taking care of everything from concert setup to litter patrol, said Sara Steeves of Lebanon, one of the organizers. Bands are giving their time. Donations and sales of buttons and posters helped raise the funds for portable restrooms, sound equipment and the park rental.
Like the 1969 Woodstock music festival from which it took its name, Berniestock is meant to be a celebration of art, music and progressive politics.
Steeves said she and Marcia Stewart, founder of Rural Oregon for Bernie Sanders, were brainstorming earlier this spring about "how are we going to keep this party going" and support the campaigners. She suggested a free music festival and the event began taking shape.
Whatever happens at the Democratic convention, Stewart said Sanders has changed the way people think. She applauds his pushback against corporate influence in government and his efforts for living wages, better educational opportunities and women's reproductive rights and wants to make sure those ideals continue to take root.
"Bernie Sanders lit the fire. It’s our job to carry the torch forward," she said. "That change is made from the bottom up; from the grass roots up.”
Said Steeves: “We support him regardless, whether he wins or loses. It’s about keeping the revolution going and progressive values and inspiring people to run for office.”
That said, Berniestock is meant to be a family-friendly celebration more than a political manifesto. Already, the organizers said they've heard interest from visitors all over Oregon and as far away as Utah.
"It's going to be great," Steeves said. "We're so excited."