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Annual event makes roaring return as thousands visited downtown Saturday for fun-filled day

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - The Gresham Arts Festival was held at the Arts Plaza this year.  For Jake Decero, the best part of being an artist is being able to share the joy from getting his hands dirty.

The Gresham-based artist crafts useful vessels out of clay, from coffee mugs to pots. And on Saturday afternoon, July 17, Decero got to revel in his love for the arts alongside thousands of visitors to East Multnomah County as the Gresham Arts Festival made a roaring return.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Gresham Arts Festival newcomer Jake Decero loved chatting with visitors to his booth, Epoch Ceramic. "I'm super pumped to be back out with people," said Decero, who was making his debut at the Arts Fest with his booth Epoch Ceramics. "Being able to talk with people who all have different ideas of beauty, and then refine my own vision and art, is invaluable."

The 2021 Gresham Arts Festival felt different than in years past, partly due to the forced closure last summer with the pandemic. There was a buzz in downtown Gresham as visitors to perused the arts, enjoyed delicious food, shopped at local businesses and enjoyed being around other people.

The event ran from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Gresham Arts Plaza, 401 N.E. Second St. The centerpiece of the festival was more than 100 artists from across the Pacific Northwest showcasing a mastery of many different mediums.

There were ceramics and cottage crafts, glass and jewelry, paintings and photography, sculptures and woodwork, 2D and 3D mixed media and so much more.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Katie Flack was drawn to the Gresham Arts Festival because she had heard so many great things about the annual gathering.  Katie Flack was another newcomer to the festival. Her booth, Katie Flack Painted Rocks, transformed stones with colorful mandalas, which are meditative geometric configurations.

"I heard really good things about the event — great people, great venue — so I wanted to be a part of the festivities," Flack said.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - This was Joe Bennetts eighth year running a booth at the Gresham Arts Festival. This was Joe Bennett's eighth year manning a booth — Joe Bennett Glass Designs — at the Gresham Arts Festival. Chatting with some of his fellow artists ahead of the event, Bennett said they weren't sure how the new venue coming out of the pandemic would fare. But during the event, he had a beaming smile.

"Look at it — everyone is loving being at the plaza," Bennett said. "It's spread out differently, but really showcases everyone's work."

The layout at the Arts Plaza was innovative, with booths lining the pathways through the park and creating small plazas of creativity for the artists. There were bubbles, balloons, music and laughter.

The Gresham Farmers Market, which convenes every Saturday, met a block away from the festival, showcasing fresh produce and other products.

In total, there were 20 food vendors between the festival and farmers market.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Many kids got their faces painted during the Gresham Arts Festival Saturday, July 17. One of the most vibrant sections of the Arts Fest was the Kid's Corner. The street was filled with chalk drawings, children took pictures with Captain Jack Sparrow, Moana, Spiderman and other famous characters. Gresham Toyota had "Art in Motion," a car that people could paint their face onto.

The event could not have happened without support from many sponsors. They include the Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce, The Gresham Outlook, Pediatric Therapy Services, Gresham Toyota, ServPro of Gresham, Clackamas County Bank, Rise City Church, Rob Hendrickson — State Farm, Second Star Party Characters and World Class Taekwondo.

There were also many volunteers who helped keep the festival running by providing support for the artists.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - The Gresham Arts Festival returned after a years break during the pandemic.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - An artist with the Cascade Woodturners Association made a piece during the festival.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - More than 100 artists had booths set up at the Gresham Arts Festival.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Thousands of visitors flooded into downtown Gresham for the return of the Gresham Arts Festival Saturday, July 17.


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