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Celebrate nature at annual Nadaka Nature Park festival

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Children play at a water pump and sand pit at the newly renovated Nadaka Nature Park in Gresham. If you haven’t checked out the newly renovated Nadaka Nature Park, now’s your chance.

The fifth-annual Nadaka Community Festival will be held from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 22, at 17615 N.E. Glisan St., with free activities for the whole family.

There will be free hot dogs, activities for children and families and live music and dancing. Before the main event, the Audubon Society of Portland will lead an interpretive nature walk from 9-10 a.m.

Among the performers are Aztec Dancers and Pan Man as well as Ukrainian Folk Music. Activities include salsa dancing lessons, education on live birds, sack races, scavenger hunts, children’s games and crafts and other educational environmentally related events.

Earlier this year, a group of volunteers called Friends of Nadaka led by Gresham resident Lee Dayfield reopened the Nadaka Nature Park to an eager group of children who couldn’t wait to run around the new space that’s outfitted with a sandpit, rock paths and a wooden play structure.

Families have been busy all summer at the park’s community garden, growing crops of fruits and vegetables.

“This will be the fifth year that we’ve (held the festival) and the first year since the park officially opened with the new two acres that have the nature-based play area, so we’re expecting it to be better than ever just because of that,” Dayfield said.

Dayfield said she’s seen families come to Nadaka this summer from as far as Sandy.

“It’s been phenomenal because it used to be a 10-acre forest with a quarter-mile walking loop and nothing on the two acres,” Dayfield said. “Before the fence came down and we started construction, Rockwood didn’t even know it was a park.”

The Friends of Nadaka will also conduct garden tours so people can show off their crops.

“The garden has been amazing,” said Monica McAllister, Nadaka coordinator. “It looks like a jungle. We have some very talented gardeners.”

McAllister hopes the festival will draw at least 350 people from mostly the Rockwood and Wilkes East neighborhoods.

“We focus on the community that’s surrounding the park,” she noted. “It’s a free event for the community. There are no vendors selling anything. We’re merely trying to provide resources.”

This summer has been especially busy for the folks at Nadaka, with garden workshops, cleanup events, hikes, and other exploration and educational activities taking place.

On Sept. 19, Nadaka will partner will SOLVE for the statewide beach and riverside cleanup event from 9 a.m. to noon. The cleanup will focus on removing invasive species. Tools, gloves, training and refreshments will be provided. Saturday weekly cleanups will start again in October.

To become a volunteer or join a Friends of Nadaka committee email McAllister at monica@friendsofnadaka.org, or call 503-998-1044.

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