Happy Independence Day, Portland!

When we think of celebrating the independence of America, we strangely tend to picture barbecues and swimming holes (just imagine of the Declaration of Independence was signed in February). Predictably, Portland thinks outside of the box, offering a more eclectic take on the notion of “freedom.”

Most notably this year, Oregonians will be free to use recreational marijuana – and boy are they going to take advantage. At Weed the People, attendees will receive free marijuana that they can consume on the premises, perhaps at the venue’s “vape lounge.”

If it’s freedom of expression you’re after, consider Portland’s own GEAR Con steampunk convention or the Waterfront Blues Festival, where musicians will spend four days serenading the city with a broader, more upbeat definition of “the blues.”

Enjoy your freedom to choose however (or whether or not) you want to celebrate your freedom. The one celebration that will be forced upon you? Fireworks. It will be nearly impossible to avoid those suckers come Saturday.

1. Fourth of July: Let’s not bury the lede here: This weekend is Fourth of July weekend, meaning every town in America – including Portland and its surrounding municipalities – is throwing red-white-and-blue celebrations. Here’s how to celebrate Independence Day around the area.

2. Waterfront Blues Festival: Portland’s biggest music festival, the Waterfront Blues Festival, returns for four days of music on four stages across Waterfront Park, with cruises, dance competitions and fireworks on Saturday night. This year’s headliners include the likes of Gregg Allman, Buddy Guy and Macy Gray.

All weekend @ Waterfront Park; $10 suggested donation at the gate

3. Marijuana Legalization Party: Celebrating the legalization of recreational marijuana in Oregon, Weed the People will be the event of every stoner’s dreams. Each attendee will get up to seven grams of free marijuana (but must pay $40 for a ticket), and will be able to legally consume it on the premises.

Friday, from 2 to 9 p.m. @ Metal Craft Fabrication; $40 ($43.33 with fees) buy online

4. Steampunk Convention: Longing for a neo-Victorian society where technology runs on steam and the color palate is decidedly bronze, brown and turquoise? Then Portland’s three-day steampunk gathering, GEAR Con, might just be for you. The 2015 event is themed “Secrets and Lies.”

Friday to Sunday @ DoubleTree Hotel; $50 for weekend pass

5. Estacada Timber Festival: Two days of lumberjack competitions (think log rolling, axe throwing, etc.) are capped off with Fourth of July fireworks at the free Estacada Timber Festival just southeast of Portland.

Friday and Saturday @ Estacada Timber Park; free admission, $10 for parking

–Jamie Hale | [email protected] | @HaleJamesB

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