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NASCAR's Xfinity Series set to debut at Portland International Raceway, June 3-4.

PMG FILE PHOTO: LON AUSTIN - NASCAR races at Portland International Raceway June 3-4, and the Rose Festival will have a strong presence as a partner.• The new Pacific Office Automation 147, a NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Portland International Raceway, June 3-4, is part of the Portland Rose Festival's return after its pandemic pause.

The last time NASCAR made a stop in the Pacific Northwest was 2000 at PIR and Monroe, Washington.

"There is a long-standing tradition of automobile racing in Portland, from the early 1900s when cars raced along dirt roads, to the creation of Portland International Raceway and the Rose Cup Races," said Jeff Curtis, Rose Festival CEO. "We are excited and proud to be supporting the NASCAR Xfinity Series Pacific Office Automation 147 race as a highlight event of the Rose Festival 'Rose City Reunion.'"

The Rose Festival will be part of the Saturday, June 4 pre-race ceremonies. Also, ticket purchasers to the race will receive courtesy admission to the Rose Festival CityFair.

"Auto racing has been a long-standing tradition being part of the Rose Festival," said Kevin Savoree, co-owner/COO of race promoter Green Savoree Racing Promotions. He's referring to the Rose Cup and CART/Champ Car races, which for a long time had an association with the Rose Festival.

Tickets for the race can be purchased at nascarportland.com.

• The Rose Festival went a different direction with the Grand Floral Parade, keeping it on the eastside and not sending it through downtown.

From the Rose Festival:

It's all-eastside celebration for the first time since the 1948 Vanport Flood forced the festival to move its signature parade. Veterans Memorial Coliseum will open its curtains and let the sun shine inside this famous glass palace, as thousands of spectators enjoy the comforts of climate-controlled seating.

The parade will go outside, and onto eastbound Northeast Weidler, before turning south on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The parade will then turn off its traditional path, and go east along Lloyd Boulevard, skirting the northern edge of the Banfield Freeway and passing by the new Earl Blumenauer Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge. It will complete the procession near the Lloyd Center, in the area of Northeast 15th and Multnomah, triumphantly returning to the Lloyd District for the first time in decades.

Marilyn Clint, Rose Festival chief operating officer, said homelessness and social unrest didn't play into the decision to not have the Grand Floral Parade go through downtown.

"It's simply because we have the Starlight on the westside, and when we're looking at what we wanted to do with the Grand Floral Parade, we don't have the resources as in past. So, 'Let's do westside and eastside,'" she said.

Clint said there will be more than 20 floats in the Grand Floral Parade, and it appears there'll be about 20 bands in the Junior Parade, 18 in the Starlight Parade and 14 or 15 in the Grand Floral Parade — "numbers consistent with what we had in 2019 and prior to that."

• Clint said the Rose Festival has been working to invite frontline workers to march in the Starlight and Grand Floral parades — retail workers, nurses, teachers, "the kind of people that parade-goers want to cheer for. We want to thank them for what happened the past two years."

• In addition, Clint wanted to thank all the supporters of the Rose Festival, which had to fight to "survive" like most every other company during the pandemic.

"Looking at what we've done financially the past couple years, we'd be remiss to not say how grateful we are to people, sponsors and corporate partners," she said.

"We got some federal support, too. The Paycheck Protection Program was hugely important. We got a couple federal grants that helped keep us going; any grants we were eligible for, we applied for. Tightening belts, reducing staff, taking furloughs. There were some opportunities, and we took advantage of them."

COURTESY PHOTO: ROSE FESTIVAL - The final event of the Rose Festival, the Milk Carton Boat Race takes place June 26 at Westmoreland Park.• The final event of the Rose Festival, the Royal Rosarians Milk Carton Boat Race takes place June 26 at Westmoreland Park Casting Pond.

• The current Miss Juneteenth, Aceia Spade of Eugene, plans to ride on a mini-float in the Grand Floral Parade.

The Rose Festival has worked to be associated with, through outreach, many non-festival events, including the Juneteenth 50th Anniversary Celebration and Good in the Hood.

The Rose Festival has also incorporated the 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade, which had to be canceled, into the Grand Floral Parade.

• Jeff Curtis, who assumed the position of Rose Festival CEO at age 31, will be leaving the organization in October to pursue other career opportunities.

Now 49, he credits Chief Operating Officer Marilyn Clint, among others, for her guidance during his tenure.

It's Curtis' 25th Rose Festival. He started with the organization in sales.

"I feel great about my tenure and the organization, and the timing was good to make the move," he said. "It feels right to do something different. I'll go on a journey to find out what it is."

A Spokane, Washington native who attended University of Pacific in Stockton, Calif., Curtis began his career working in minor-league baseball and then worked in sales for the Seattle Mariners in 1996 and '97.

"I've learned a lot, I've learned the power of relationships. They are the most important thing to success, especially with the Rose Festival being a people organization," he said. "Coming in at 31, I was very young but confident that I could do the job, but I had to learn to do the job."


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