Families looking for fun in the Columbia River Gorge are invited to Hood River, Oregon, this weekend, for three days of adventure.
OUTFOUND creators Antonio Aransaenz and Drew Neumann will hold their first adventure sports and outdoor innovation festival Friday, Saturday and Sunday, along the Hood River waterfront.
“The wilderness here is incredible, and people just see the value in it,” Neumann said. “It’s a magical playground for people of the outdoors.”
This destination is about 50 miles from Camas and Washougal. Take state Route 14 east, past North Bonneville, cross the Bridge of the Gods before Stevenson, and then follow Interstate 84 east to Hood River.
“I would encourage people from Camas, Washougal and other neighboring towns to take advantage of this,” Aransaenz said. “It’s a one-of-a-kind event. It’s never been done before in terms of bridging all of these different activities together. I would encourage people to stop by and see what it’s all about. A lot of creativity, passion and hard work have been put into this for the past two years. I think that will come out in all the activities people get to experience.”
The festival features OUTFOUND Talks, 20-minute presentations by movers and shakers in the outdoor world; an OUTFOUNDER competition between businesses testing new products; and an expo consumer show where innovative brands showcase their new products. All of these activities will take place on a scenic, 30-acre, waterfront playground filled with sports, games, workshops, films and music performances.
Aransaenz said the demonstrations range from yoga, meditation and breathing techniques to stand-up paddleboarding, kitesurfing, kayaking and more. Adventurers can tackle a rock-climbing wall, called a “Moon Board” with LED lights for plotting hand and foot holds. There also are “outdoor vending machines” that give people missions to accomplish for prizes.
“This is meant to break the ice amongst the attendees,” Aransaenz said. “Once a person completes that mission, they come back to that machine and it dispenses an outdoor product. It’s like a raffle, but a much more immersive and interactive activity.”
The festival is open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day, and closes at 7 p.m. Sunday. One- to three-day passes are for sale at www.outfoundseries.com. Children age 12 and younger can enter for free. Campsites are available for those who plan to stay for more than one day.
“This is meant to be an experience for the whole family. We encourage parents to bring their kids and include them in all these activities,” Aransaenz said. “I think that’s what parents in the gorge are all about — immersing their kids in the outdoors. We hope to expand on that in the years to come.”
The creators of OUTFOUND hope this festival becomes an annual getaway for families and adventurers in the Gorge.
“We just want people to come, have a great time and network,” Neumann said. “If they are looking to get into the outdoor industry or they want to enhance their ability to perfect their hobby, (come) learn from some of the best and be inspired through the things that they do.”
Aransaenz and Neumann met on the East Coast, but their love of the outdoors brought them out west.
“We spent a lot of time here in Oregon as tourists and outdoor recreationalists. When we decided we were going to do this in Hood River, we packed our stuff and moved here,” Aransaenz said. “You meet a lot of people in Hood River who have come here for different reasons, and you hear about a lot of people who ended up staying because of the beauty of this place.”
Leaving the big city for the great outdoors changed Neumann’s life in so many ways. He lived in a camper for two years, touring the U.S. and Europe. Nature provided the perfect setting for sole searching, reflection and relaxation.
Neumann challenges Camas and Washougal residents to take a scenic drive through the Columbia River Gorge and find a new adventure in Hood River.
“I think development and personal growth comes when you challenge yourself by stepping outside of your comfort zone,” Neumann said. “Just experiencing nature and going on an adventure really helps you grow and become a better person.”