Portland hosts half a million (give or take) beer, wine and food fests every year, but this one is an original — for the 19th year running, Oregon’s spring celebration of wine and beer, the annual Spring Beer & Wine Festival, returns to the Oregon Convention Center on Friday, March 29th and Saturday, March 30th.

This east bank fest gets bigger and better every year and with 2013, there is no exception. Besides more than 80 breweries and 30 wineries, attendees will find artisan spirits, ciders, fine cheeses and chocolates, exhibitors and seminars, cooking demos featuring festival beverages, and a diverse mix stellar Northwest music (the steel-drummin’ Terry Barber, the funky Polyrhythmics, down-home Tapwater). Don’t forget the good cause: proceeds from the event will benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association this year.

This is a particularly good time to sample some of the bounty the Portland area has to offer — brewers are downing the last of their barleywine and getting back into the swing of spring with lighter, increasingly floral ales and lagers, while wineries are uncorking the aptly-aged bounties of past harvests in preparation for that spring release time of year. Consider the festival a preview of what’s up and coming in Oregon this spring and summer.

Want to get in free? You’re right, that’s a rhetorical question. Be one of the first 500 through the door on Friday, or sign up for Saturday morning’s costume-happy Hoppity Hops Fun Run, “celebrating the dual holidays of Easter and Beer.” You’ll skip spending $20 on a ticket, and can use it instead to stock up on specialty beers and wines donated by local craftspeople at the MDA table, where all proceeds go to sending local kids with muscle disease to summer camp. Buy tickets here.

Friday, March 29 — Saturday, March 30 || Noon—11:00 pm both days || Oregon Convention Center || 777 Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Portland