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St. Helens has opportunity to mimic Scappoose Boosters retro approach

by: Courtesy logo

Barely 18 hours into the Scappoose Pow Wow, festival organizer Michael Klobes on Friday morning said he had already identified ways in which the 2012 Scappoose Pow Wow would be better.

Some of the numerous event attractions failed to draw minimum participation, for instance, and the Thursday start date might have been a day too early.

But such things can be fixed with minor tweaks. The bottom line for the Pow Wow festival is that it raised much-needed money for the students in Scappoose School District and brought back an occasion that for years contributed to Scappoose's identity and provided a summer venue for community celebration. Exactly how much money it had raised was not known as of press time, but Klobes was hailing the Pow Wow as a 'success.'

One aspect about the Pow Wow that helps provide for its success is its historic place in the community. The festival ostensibly started in 1959 - the first event was a Scappoose celebration of Oregon's centennial year - and had a 33-year run before it came to a halt in 1992.

The Pow Wow organizers also should be commended for bringing the Pow Wow back to the event it was originally intend to be; at its core it is a family-friendly community celebration, though it provides the right mix of evening entertainment, social opportunities and refreshment (i.e. beer) to attract larger crowds.

It should not become a drunk fest, however, as critics claim the Pow Wow ultimately became in the 1980s and early 1990s before its temporary demise.

The Scappoose Boosters in many ways were wise not to scrap the Pow Wow's history in favor of a new event, which, as St. Helens festival planners know too well, carries considerably more risk. Choose a festival topic that doesn't resonate well with the populace or that doesn't have a marquee attraction, and you end up with a dud on your hands.

It is with that thought in mind we're encouraged by early discussions occurring in St. Helens - specifically through the St. Helens Kiwanis Club - to resurrect a historically popular festival that has since gone by the wayside, one going by the name of Port-O-Fun or Rivercity Days.

Over the last several years, St. Helens has had no shortage of community festivals, though few if any have had the type of presence as the Sauerkraut or, now, Pow Wow festivals. We have consistently been impressed with the turnout for 13 Nights on the River and Fourth of July fireworks are always a hit.

A larger festival, one that pulls upon the retrospective resonance of those such as Port-O-Fun or Rivercity Days, has a better chance of drumming up community enthusiasm and, hence, drawing outside interests than a start-up.

By combining elements of Henry Knighton Days and some of the other existing St. Helens staples, and turning the festival into a fundraiser that serves the community's school children - as the Pow Wow has done - makes it a more attractive venture for local civic leaders and businesses to support.

As the media sponsor for the Pow Wow, we would like to thank the Scappoose Boosters and the other sponsors for their hard work reviving the festival, and for pledges to take it to the next level in the future.

We anticipate providing our future support, and we look forward to seeing you at the Pow Wow next year and for many years to come.