Story & photo by Patrick Alexander
Oregon Coast TODAY
The wizened Dungeon Master beckons you in closer, the flickering camp fire dancing in his timeless eyes. In a raspy voice, he delivers the news that everyone in the party has been waiting for - a quest is at hand.
“Shall we be hunting orcs?” asked the elf archer. “Be we in search of gold?” growled the stout dwarf warrior.
“Nothing so ordinary,” whispered the Dungeon Master. “This quest shall take you in search of the twin treasures of the Oregon Coast - seafood and wine.”
As your party makes its way across the gleaming Yaquina Bay Bridge, your destination comes into sight below. The vast tent sprawls across South Beach like a slumbering dragon, the hoots and hollers of its lively inhabitants amplified as they drift across the bay.
Once across the bridge, your valiant band faces its first challenge as you approach the Rogue Brewery. The dwarf, thirsty from the long march, veers off course, making a beeline for the award-winning ales that lie within. It takes everyone working together (and a few lucky rolls of the 20-sided-dice) but after much grappling and grunting, the party arrives at the entrance to The Great Tent.
“Tickets, please,” chimes the friendly chamber of commerce volunteer.
Unfortunately, the Dungeon Master neglected to mention that, due to its huge popularity, admission to the festival’s Saturday event is by advance e-ticket only. And while a few members of the party can hold their own with an abacus, none have yet mastered an iPhone.
Time for the wizard to step up. A few murmured incantations later and, voilá, a set of bogus tickets spring magically into existence.
But even with the conjured counterfeits in hand, your party’s troubles are not over. The watchful security staff have serious doubts that your halfling thief is over 21. Eventually, he manages to persuade them by telling a series of increasingly rude jokes that prove he’s been around the block more than once.
Leaving the blushing guards behind, your party makes its way into the cavernous tent, with eyes popping and jaws dropping at the sight of such bounty of all kinds. Normally, you would explore systematically, watching each other’s backs and keeping an eye out for hidden danger on the flanks. Not today. All discipline goes out the window as each member rushes off in search of their own personal treasure.
The elf quickly checks out each wine vendor, making a list of everyone that serves something light and fizzy. Meanwhile, the halfling makes his way straight to the food court, stacking up three crab melts, two portions of fish and chips and a large pork sausage while he ponders what to order for his main course.
The cleric scours the craft vendors, stocking up on silver necklaces to ward off werewolves; jerky and fudge to ward off hunger; and a new cloak made from recycled t-shirts to ward off the nagging feeling that the party only keeps him around for his healing powers.
By the end of the night, your berserker has found his way on to the dance floor where some of Newport’s finest grooves have whipped him into a whirling dervish. The wizard, who had been doing his best to follow the carnage and repair the damage with strategically placed spells, has finally given up and is sitting and enjoying the show with a cheeky glass of Syrah from the Flying Dutchman Winery.
Meanwhile, the dwarf has locked arms with a clutch of local fishermen, with the whole group bellowing out something halfway between a sea shanty and an ancient dwarven mining chant.
All in all, a successful quest. Let’s ask the Dungeon Master if we can do it again tomorrow.
The Newport Seafood & Wine Festival runs from Thursday, Feb. 22, through Sunday, Feb. 25, next to the Rogue Brewery at South Beach. For tickets, go to www.seafoodandwine.com
If you go
Thursday, Feb. 22: 5-9 pm, $16
Friday, Feb. 23: Noon-9 pm, $17
Saturday, Feb. 24: 10 am-6 pm, $22 e-ticket only
Sunday, Feb. 25: 10 am-4 pm, $8
21 and over only. ID required.
For tickets, go to www.seafoodandwine.com