Events 2022: Back to normal?
When it comes to events, could we see a return to normalcy in 2022?
Does the Rose Festival return in all its glory, parades and all?
Does the Waterfront Blues Festival again lure thousands of fans to Waterfront Park with four days of great music?
Can we all gather at the PDX Jazz Festival and Oregon Brewers Festival and in Portland parks and at the Expo Center?
Mind you, many things have returned from COVID-19 dormancy, and events continued throughout the past two years in different forms — streaming, online, socially distanced, significantly altered. Zidell Yards hosted a great many events, including a scaled-down Waterfront Blues Festival.
In March 2021, against the odds and bucking the trend, the folks with O'Loughlin Trade Shows successfully put on a combined event of the Portland Boat Show and Pacific Northwest Sportsmen's Show at the Expo Center, one of four the company put on last year.
"We had OSHA and many others watching us closely and we pulled it off," publicist Trey Carskadon said. With two sportsmen's shows in March, "We didn't have a single reported case of COVID. We were the only ones in the region, at that time, to hold shows and one of the few in the country. It wasn't easy, but we're grateful to the state of Oregon and to the health and government authorities in Deschutes and Multnomah counties to let us try and succeed."
O'Loughlin has five shows lined up for the early months of 2022, including the Portland Boat Show (Jan. 12-16) and Pacific Northwest Sportsmen's Show (Feb. 16-20) at Expo Center.
As far as 2022, even with ongoing COVID-19 pandemic government restrictions, here's a look at some of the things that should (or could) be back to entertain us all:
• Speaking of Expo Center, coming off its 100th anniversary in 2021, it'll host events this year including the O'Loughlin shows and others returning to the fold, including the Seafood & Wine Festival (Feb. 5-6), Portland Metro RV Dealers show (March 9-13) and Portland Auto Swap Meet (April 7-9). The second half of the Expo Center's schedule hasn't been finalized yet.
"These promoters are trying so hard to keep these presentations coming," said Matthew P. Rotchford, executive director.
• Formerly Wizard World Portland, the FAN EXPO Portland Comic Con will be held Jan. 21-23 at Oregon Convention Center after being sidelined last year. A special guest will be William Shatner, aka Captain Kirk from "Star Trek." UPDATE: The event has been canceled because of COVID-19 concerns.
• Portland music venues have opened, albeit with COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. The Biamp PDX Jazz Festival plans a full-fledged, in-person return, Feb. 17-26, after being online in 2021. It'll feature NEA Jazz Masters Ron Carter, Billy Hart and Donald Harrison Jr., as well as Grammy Award winners (along with Carter) Robert Grasper, Gary Bartz, Diane Schuur, Brad Mehldau, Flor De Toloache and Chuck Israels.
"The festival has been crafted to revitalize Portland's downtown music scene with shows by the most exciting figures in jazz today. We can't wait to welcome 'live' audiences back," said Chris Doss, PDX Jazz executive director. "Our team and music venue partners have taken extensive measures to ensure that audiences, artists and staff have a safe gathering environment to celebrate 'live' music."
• Yes, organizers of the Rose Festival want to put on the Rose Festival of old with the Waterfront Park CityFair, the Starlight and Grand Floral and Junior parades, the Queen's Coronation at Veterans Memorial Coliseum and everything that goes with Portland's annual party. It had to be put on hold the past couple years, and organizers pivoted to presenting a Porch Parade and a socially distanced Queen's Coronation at Washington Park and mostly online activities.
The Rose Festival website promises a city "reunion" starting May 27. Translation: It's in the works, just not official.
"The plan is to give it a shot," publicist Rich Jarvis said. "The consensus in the organization is we can go for it. But, nothing official has been formulated."
• The Oregon Zoo Concert Series has always been popular, until the pandemic shut it (and many other things) down. It's beautiful grounds for concerts at the Oregon Zoo, and music will return there — although the emphasis could change.
"We don't have any formal plans to announce, yet, but our summer concert season is likely to look a lot different than the past," said Krista Swan, marketing and brand manager. "We'll be returning to our roots as the oldest outdoor music venue in the region, but probably focusing more on local acts with more family-friendly environments (as opposed to the big high-production concerts)."
• The Summer Free For All by Portland Parks and Recreation featured a slew of events in parks that included concerts and movies. It was a big deal, and it had to be curbed in the past couple years, although 2021 brought the return of summer camps and swimming pools and a series of 40 pop-up concerts — but not movies.
"We kept the scope small to reduce crowding and preserve physical distancing," said Mark Ross, PP&R public information officer. Programs such as Free Lunch & Play and Mobile Play also continued.
What will 2022 bring? Concerts? Movies?
"We are in the preliminary stage of planning, which is not easy during an ongoing pandemic," Ross said. "We are hopeful that public health conditions will allow us to return to offering more of the beloved, signature events such as Movies in the Park and Concerts in the Park."
• Portland Pride Week Waterfront Festival couldn't be held at Waterfront Park and the parade has been on hold. But, it's returning to downtown June 12-19, after being a mix of in-person events (Pride Pics on South Waterfront) and online programming (pre-recorded Pride Parade) in 2021. If the parade can be held, expect it to be colorful and lively.
• Expectations are for the Waterfront Blues Festival to return to Waterfront Park July 1-4, although because of the mass of people who attend each day and the ongoing pandemic, organizers have not announced plans yet. An announcement should come in mid-January, said Christina Fuller of Fuller Events, which runs the festival (and put on last year's "Upriver" festival at Zidell Yards).
• Oregon Brewers Festival, after cancellation in 2022, should be back July 27-30 at Waterfront Park. Said founder Art Larrance: "The event will be in one-half of the park space as previously used, with 40 breweries."
• Late July/early August always featured one of the country's coolest music festivals, Pickathon in the intimate wooded environment and buildings at Pendarvis Farm in Happy Valley. Well, it's been canceled for two consecutive years.
As far as 2022, Zale Schoenborn, Pickathon founder, has told Oregon Public Broadcasting that, "We don't really have any details, but I would say we are going to do 2022. Expect Pickathon to be back." Stay tuned.
• Some other well-attended events throughout 2022, courtesy of Travel Portland (travelportland.com), that had been put on hold or modified recently: January — Fertile Ground Festival; February — Chinese New Year at Lan Su Chinese Garden, Portland Winter Light Festival; March — POW Film Festival, Portland International Film Festival, St. Patrick's Day; April — Design Week Portland; May — UFO Festival, Cinco de Mayo Festival; June — Festa Italiana, PDX Beer Week; July — Chamber Music Northwest Summer Festival; August — PDX Adult Soapbox Derby; September — Feast Portland, Rose City Comic Con, Mt. Angel Oktoberfest, Portland Fashion Week, Time-Based Art Festival; October — Portland Film Festival; November — Portland Book Festival; December — Festival of Trees, Holiday Ale Fest.
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