Strawberry Short Course Festival mixes family fun, learning
What once was a strawberry and cabbage field east of downtown Gresham evolved into a thriving community college serving all of East Multnomah County and many parts beyond.
The annual Strawberry Short Course Festival, named to honor the fertile ground that traded fruit and vegetable crops for Mt. Hood Community College, returns this weekend from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 22, to the MHCC campus at 26000 S.E. Stark St.
The event features family-friendly activities, food and music and interactive learning opportunities, noted Kimberly Murray, MHCC community education coordinator and festival chairwoman.
"The festival has activities for people of all ages including free short course offerings taught by our instructors; planetarium shows; kids' zone with a bounce house, bungee run; face painting; jazz music; hands-on experiments in our science labs; and more," she said. "It's a great opportunity for the community to come to our beautiful campus and explore all of the amazing things we have to offer."
This year's event features stand-bys including Planetarium Sky Theater shows and strawberry cupcakes, baked this year by Gresham's Killer Kakes and Confections, and free cosmetology services (haircuts and mini-manicures) available on a first-come, first-served basis.
The following short course categories will be offered:
• Arts & Crafts: polymer clay, watercolor and collage, tattoo art for kids, Barney coloring contest
• Children's Special Interests: The 3 Little Pigs and Huffy Puffy Wolf, The Puppet Town Musicians
• Business and Finance: First-time home buying, cybersecurity tips, spending and saving wisely, understanding your credit score, saving for healthcare costs
• Health, Fitness and Well Being: hatha yoga, how stress affects your life, navigating conflict
• Science: Planetarium show "Making Science Fiction a Reality: The Hunt for Black Holes," solar observatory
• MHCC Science Labs: life science, chemistry, anatomy
• Special Interests: wire welding process, applied technologies open house, baking the perfect dessert, turning memories into memoir
Other activities include MHCC Performing Arts student ensemble UDT performing jazz arrangements of classic video game songs; Corbett Critters 4H Petting Zoo; Kids' Zone: coloring contest, bounce house, slide, games, art projects, balloon art, bungee run, face painting, stilt walker; meet local heroes from Gresham Police Department, Gresham Fire Department and Multnomah County Sheriff's Office; Penny's Puppet Show: The 3 Little Pigs and the Huffy Puffy Wolf; and a kids' taekwondo demonstration by World Champion Taekwondo Gresham.
Strawberry Short Course originated in the 1980s, when MHCC faculty members decided it would be fun to welcome community members onto campus and share the college's offerings. The festival was named through a contest between MHCC staff members, highlighting the history of the college being built on former strawberry — and cabbage — fields.
After an extended hiatus, the festival relaunched in 2013 and has been a staple at MHCC ever since.
"The Strawberry Short Course Festival was revitalized at MHCC in 2013, and since has welcomed thousands of guests to campus," Murray said. "We are really excited for everyone to come out and explore MHCC's beautiful campus, take a free short course and discover a new interest."
A committee of about eight MHCC staff members organizes the event, with a mixture of MHCC staff, students and community members contributing time to share their passions and interests.
Last year's Strawberry Short Course event attracted about 1,000 attendees.
"When you see an event of this size come together with the smiling faces of people enjoying the day," Murray said, "it's worth all of the hard work."