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Troutdale's First Friday kicks off series of in-person gatherings across region

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Woodworks Band jammed out at Mayors Square during the return of Troutdales First Friday on June 4. There was a buzz in downtown Troutdale as stir-crazy residents came together for an evening of fun under the sun Friday, June 4.

Families strolled along the Historic Columbia River Highway — which had been closed to turn downtown into a pedestrian plaza, couples ate dinner at extended outdoor seating from local restaurants, visitors stopped by booths showcasing the artistic talent of community members, and in Mayor's Square, people jammed out to a live concert.

"We are playing outside with a crowd — who'd have imagined," said Asher Wood, front man of the Woodworks Band, with a grin.

The return of Troutdale's First Friday Art Walk felt like a kickoff to a summer of in-person festivities and fun as restrictions that shuttered similar gatherings last year have been loosened.

"It's so fun with how much energy there is," said Leslie Henson, owner of Way Out Inn. "When we were open during the pandemic it was like a band playing to an empty stadium."

First Friday organizers went all out after being forced to cancel the series in 2020.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - The First Friday Art Walk, June 4, felt like a return to normalcy and provided a glimpse for an upcoming summer of fun. "It's extremely important for communities all around Oregon to host these in-person events again," said Troutdale Mayor Randy Lauer. "We have been through a lot — our Main Street businesses here in Troutdale have been through a lot."

Lauer stressed taking any opportunity to safely gather while promoting small businesses, local artists, and performers. He added that gatherings like First Friday highlight what makes Troutdale a "special community."

And now across East Multnomah County, there is an exciting slate of activities for residents of all ages to enjoy, signaling a return to normalcy after a difficult year and a half.

"Some might not be as ready as others and that's fine — but for those of us that are I encourage you all to get outside and enjoy the beautiful sunshine," Lauer said.

Music, Art, Culture

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Gyorgy Brezovay played during the First Friday Art Walk.In Gresham, music will be playing once again in the Arts Plaza after going virtual throughout 2020.

The Center for the Arts Foundation announced the line-up for the 13th annual Music Mondays free concert series that will run every Monday in July and August. The concerts begin at 6:30 p.m. in the plaza, 401 N.E. Second St.

"The Center For The Arts Foundation looks forward to welcoming audiences back (for) exciting live music performances in a lovely outdoor setting," said Sue O'Halloran, president of the group.

And the concerts this year will have even more for families — food and beverages will be for sale in the plaza. The Hoppy Brewer will offer beer and wine, Gresham Barlow Youth Baseball/Softball will sell hotdogs, and other vendors will rotate throughout the summer.

The Music Mondays performance to circle on your calendar is Monday, Aug. 16, for the Party on the Plaza. This special gathering will run from 5-9 p.m. and feature Andy Stokes, two-time inductee into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame, with an opening act by Mt. Hood Community College music students. The Party on the Plaza will also have kids activities and arts and culture displays.

In Gresham's Main City Park, there will be a series of cultural events highlighting Japanese art and traditions.

Put on by the Friends of the Japanese Garden, with support from a city of Gresham grant, the classes and workshops honor the 10-year anniversary of completing Tsuru Island Japanese Garden, 219 S. Main Ave., and the community's connection with sister-city Ebetsu, Japan.

There will be Sho-Art calligraphy demonstrations, shinobue bamboo flute and koto-kai Japanese harp performances, Ikebana floral arrangements and bonsai showcases, origami class, and more.

A full list of all the Japanese Garden events can be found at bit.ly/3fPXBWZ

"I am (excited) for our community to have safe places to gather and reconnect after a really tough year," said Sasha Konell, Gresham community branding specialist.

Konell is one of the folks putting together the biggest event of the summer — the Gresham Arts Festival. That gathering draws tens of thousands of visitors to the community, and its cancellation last year was a difficult decision.

PMG FILE PHOTO - The Gresham Arts Festival is set to return this summer, Sunday, July 17, in downtown Gresham."Community events like the Gresham Arts Festival, volunteer cleanups or downtown functions, catching up with friends, getting out of the house with kids — are all aspects of our lives that we have been craving the past year through this pandemic," Konell said.

Things will look a little different when the Arts Festival returns, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 17. Instead of sprawling through downtown, booths run by more than 100 artists from across the Pacific Northwest will be contained within the Arts Plaza, 401 N.E. Second St.

There will be a kids corner with games, treats and beverages, live music, the Gresham Farmers Market, outdoor dining and deals from downtown businesses.

"We're so excited and thankful to be able to host this for the community once again," said Elizabeth Coffey, Gresham assistant city manager.

Music Mondays

PMG FILE PHOTO - Todd Kirnan, Mr. Gresham, danced during a Music Mondays performance in 2019.   Here are the musicians coming to Gresham for the Music Monday performances in the Arts Plaza, 401 N.E. Second St.

July 5 — JT Wise Band

July 12 — The Boondock Boys

July 19 — Cary Novotny Band

July 26 — Norman "Boogie Cat" Sylvester

Aug. 2 — The Bylines

Aug. 9 — Slicker

Aug. 16 — Party on the Plaza featuring Andy Stokes and opening act Under the Deku Tree

Aug. 23 — A Cara o Cruz

Aug. 30 — Collection of Lone Souljahs

Calendar of fun

COURTESY PHOTO: FRIENDS OF GRESHAM JAPANESE GARDEN - Oregon Koto-Kai will perform in Gresham using traditional Japanese harps, at Ebetsu Plaza in Main City Park.There will be plenty to do this summer across East Multnomah County as in-person gatherings make a roaring return.

Some of the upcoming events include:

- Shinobue Performances — 1-2:15 p.m. Saturday, June 19, enjoy the peaceful music of traditional Japanese flutes as you explore Tsuru Island Japanese Garden, 219 S. Main Ave.

- Rock Around the Clocks — 11 a.m. Saturday, June 26, listen to music and learn about the history of the famous Meier & Frank clocks at the Gresham History Museum, 410 N. Main Ave.

- Farewell to the Clocks — 2 p.m. Sunday, June 27, the last chance to see historic clocks that have been on loan in Gresham at the History Museum, 410 N. Main Ave., before they are hidden away in a warehouse by the Oregon Historical Society.

- First Friday — 5 p.m. Friday, July 2, downtown Troutdale is turned into a gallery with art, food and live music all along the Historic Columbia River Highway.

- Origami Interactive Workshop — noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 10, make swans and flapping birds out of origami with help from a 40-year expert at Ebetsu Plaza, south end of Main City Park, 219 S. Main Ave.

- Flicks in the Park — dusk (9 p.m.) Friday, July 16, family-friendly movie screening at Fairview's Community Park, 21600 N.E. Park Lane.

- Gresham Arts Festival — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 17, more than 100 artists from across the Pacific Northwest, kids' corner, local cuisine, treats and beverages, live music and stage performances, all in the Arts Plaza, 401 N.E. Second St.

- Oregon Koto-Kai — 1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. Saturday, July 24, listen to Oregon Koto-Kai as they play music using long, horizontal Japanese harps at Ebetsu Plaza, 219 S. Main Ave.


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