Workshops planned to inform next generation of organizers

                    Last August’s Crawfish Festival pulled out all the stops, adding a fireworks display and large-scale birthday celebration to mark the city’s centennial year. But amid the spectacle and the estimated 10,000 attendees was uncertainty, with the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce retiring from its 25-year tradition of organizing the 63-year-old community institution. At the close of the weekend, there was no heir apparent in sight to take up the torch — or oven mitts and boiling pot, if you prefer.

Now, the chamber is teaming up with the city to host an orientation of sorts for individuals and organizations tempted to take over the festival and run with it.

Getting the festival off the ground is far more than a weekend project. The chamber committee typically spent about eight months each year on planning the two-day event, which requires about $2 million in liability insurance at a cost of between $2,600 and $4,200, Linda Moholt, chief executive officer of the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce said.

After a quarter-century, the chamber cited its own limited bandwidth and made a public appeal last July to find a new festival organizer. Moholt reports the response has been encouraging: Seven events planning companies and one nonprofit have expressed interest.

This includes Tualatin business owner Dave Nicoli, president of Tigard’s Festival of Balloons. In a Times interview last August, Nicoli expressed lukewarm feelings about taking over the Crawfish Festival. He cautioned other would-be organizers not to take on such a project with the expectation of huge profits, explaining that he subsidizes the Festival of Balloons by paying a part-time employee to work on it year-round.

There is room for others interested in taking on the Crawfish Festival, Moholt said. The Tualatin Crawfish Festival Interested Parties Workshop will be held in the Community Room at the Tualatin Public Library, 18878 S.W. Martinazzi Ave., on two dates: Tuesday, Oct. 15, at 11 a.m., and Tuesday, Oct. 29, at 4 p.m. The chamber and the city will give a comprehensive overview of the scope and budget of the event, as well as possible obstacles and opportunities. The city, which Moholt describes as “the gatekeepers” of the event, will explain its role in supporting the festival, largely through permitting and police and venue support.

“We want to make sure everybody has the tools to make a great proposal,” Moholt said.

Hopeful organizers must submit letters of intent by Nov. 8 and turn in final proposals by Nov. 30. Materials will be reviewed by a selection committee, which Moholt anticipates will largely resemble this year’s Crawfish Festival Committee. So far, Moholt can confirm festival chairwoman Cheryl Dorman, chamber board chairman Kevin O’Malley and Mayor Lou Ogden will sit on the committee.

Assuming an acceptable candidate steps up, next year’s festival organizer would be named by Dec. 20.

All are welcome at either workshop. For more information, visit

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