Festival of fun and sun

Crowds turn out for 3 days of art
by: Vern Uyetake, Admiring paintings in the Open Show at the Festival of the Arts Friday are Sheila Martin and Rick Pittman.

Although virtually everyone agreed that the 2006 Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts was an enormous success, perhaps no one was happier than the group of young girls on A Avenue selling bottled water, soda and snacks throughout the weekend.

As temperatures topped 90 degrees on Saturday and broke records on Sunday, finding a place to cool down was priority No. 1 for many of the thousands of visitors to George Rogers Park.

While paintings and sculptures took center stage for the three-day event, many of the most creative concoctions on display were individual fans that visitors crafted out of everything from programs to fliers to articles of clothing.

Still, the heat didn't keep too many of the festival's normal attendees from venturing into the two festival venues: George Rogers and the Lakewood Center Center for the Arts. It was estimated that the crowds nearly equaled those from the previous year.

'It's warm but that's not going to keep us away. We get enough rain in Oregon, it seems kind of silly to start complaining about the sun,' said Rikki Irving, an Oregon City resident who stopped by the festival with her husband Stephen.

On Friday evening, many visitors, anticipating the weekend heat wave, flooded the park and the Lakewood Center to get an early glimpse at the current offerings of hundreds of Portland-area artists.

Pianist John Nilsen took the West Coast Bank Stage at George Rogers on Friday morning to kick things off at the festival and he was followed by a myriad of talented performers throughout the weekend. World-renowned clarinetist Jim Beatty and his jazz band played the final set on Sunday evening.

One of the most well-received performances of the event was the Missoula Children's Theatre's spirited performance of 'Robin Hood' on the main stage, which captivated the attention of many of the children at the park.

'My kids have had a great time. They've been able to find a lot to keep them interested,' said Diane Warren of Milwaukie.

People of all ages enjoyed the wide variety of items on display and for sale.

'Our variety is improving every year and that was one of the comments we received. People were impressed with our interesting array of artists. There was a great amount of diversity,' said Andrew Edwards, executive director of the Lakewood Center for the Arts.

The unique hats created by Patricia and Dennis Shypertt were a crowd favorite. At the neighboring booth, Jerry Joslin's sculptures drew much attention both because of their intricate design and because they were located in one of the few shady areas of the park.

'This is my first year here. I've heard about (the festival) from friends all the time but I always seemed to be out of town. It's been terrific. I can't believe how big of an event this is,' said Patricia Dobson, Tualatin.

Across the street at the Lakewood Center, the Open Show attracted big crowds who were drawn to the air-conditioned halls, the ornate paintings and one of the festival's newest features.

The SPLASH exhibit, which aimed to educate visitors on the process of creating art, was also a big success, drawing large crowds throughout the weekend.

'The community really pulls together for this event. I think, in spite of the heat, everyone was very pleased with the turnout and people had a very good time,' Edwards said.

Over the years, traffic has been one of the biggest concerns for festival coordinators. This year, for the most part, there were not many long delays.

'We're grateful to our neighbors and to the city for providing us with such great services,' Edwards said.

By Sunday, temperatures approached the century mark but visitors still packed the park and the Lakewood Center.

Overall, officials estimated that art sales were comparable to last year, calculating that be-tween 150 and 175 pieces were sold during the three-day event.