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Venture in the Village-Rediscover Multnomah Village, aims to help shops during pandemic with community event

PMG FILE PHOTO - Multnomah Days festival goers enjoy the outdoor block party with their pets in tow in 2019. Typically a weekend-long street fair, the event in Multnomah Village is canceled this year due to COVID-19, but in its place, organizers will host Venture in the Village-Rediscover Multnomah Village, the same weekend, Aug. 15-16.Multnomah Days may not be happening in its traditional form this year, but organizers are still rolling out a community event.

Instead of the annual parade and street fair, businesses in Multnomah Village will be the focus of Venture in the Village-Rediscover Multnomah Village on Aug. 15 and 16.

Venture in the Village is a scavenger hunt that will reveal discounts and promotions offered by participating shops and restaurants in Southwest Portland.

As planned, maps will be provided with clues about shops in the village. When a visitor arrives at a shop, they scan a QR code—the standard abbreviation for Quick Response code—that unlocks the sales promotion for that particular shop. Maps and codes will be accessible via smart phone or printed copies will be provided at a booth during the two-day, weekend event.

"This is a modern-day scavenger hunt. Think First Friday and Golden Ticket wrapped into one, with a fun twist," the Multnomah Village Business Association stated in an announcement, referring to two other regular events the group puts on. MVBA also organizes the annual Multnomah Days event.

Christine Lassiter is head of the event committee within the business association that puts on the annual community fair.

Lassiter said having Multnomah Days in its regular form wasn't feasible this year due to COVID-19 restrictions and public health concerns. The MVBA tried to come up with a compromise.

"We're trying to discourage large crowds of people, but we wanted to do something as a placeholder that draws the attention back to businesses in the village," Lassiter said.

Lassiter notes the event planners decided to cancel Multnomah Days back in May, as the virus continued spreading in Oregon and the stay-home order showed no signs of letting up. On top of health concerns, the economy was tanking and the committee didn't see fit to ask businesses—many of which were closed or operating at reduced capacity—for sponsorship money to put on the event.

"It was a very emotional and hard decision. Most of us on the committee have been doing this a couple years now. We put our heart and soul into it," Lassiter said, noting event organizing takes at least six months of preparation. "Now is proof that we made the right decision."

The Venture in the Village scavenger hunt aims to put the spotlight on businesses and shops, many of which are struggling to stay afloat, while providing a fun activity for the community that still allows for physical distancing.

"We needed, now more than ever, for our businesses to get that support and recognition they deserve. We're trying to do that in the most creative and safe way possible," Lassiter added.

Participants can get event updates and map information from the Multnomah Days Facebook page, or Instagram account or visit the volunteer-staffed info booth during the event.

Businesses will set their own hours and rules for customer entry and capacity. Those that are not open during the event will provide QR codes that can be redeemed online or with a different order method, according to event planners.

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