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Artists, Scots to converge HERE this weekend

Gresham Arts Festival, Highland Games on tap


Our area will be graced with two major festivals this weekend, the Gresham Arts Festival and the Portland Highland Games.

The Arts Festival takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 16, in downtown Gresham, in the area bounded by Miller and Kelly avenues as well as Powell Boulevard and Fifth Street.

The Highland Games take place noon to 10 p.m. Friday, July 15, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, July 16, on the athletic fields and in the gym at Mt. Hood Community College, 26000 S.E. Stark St.

Here’s a preview of what’s happening at both events.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Thousands of folks are expected to attend the Gresham Arts Festival this Saturday, July 16.Gresham Arts Festival

Elizabeth Coffey, communications manager for the city of Gresham, says more than 140 artists and artisans will be on hand to display and sell their wares, which include mixed media, paintings, sculpture, jewelry and cottage crafts. The festival is expected to draw at least 10,000 people, she says.

“The Gresham Arts Festival is a celebration of community and creativity, and a chance for residents and visitors alike to come together to enjoy Gresham’s charming historic downtown on a beautiful summer Saturday,” Coffey says.

One of the artists who will be there is Gresham photographer Matthew Eaton, who maintains a website at roadshowphotography.smugmug.com and also works out of the Troutdale Art Center, 903 E. Historic Columbia River Highway. Eaton says his first experience at the Gresham Arts Festival in 2014 was a huge success. He sold more than 200 cards, 20 matted prints and a handful of framed prints.

“That festival for me is the busiest single day show I’ve ever done,” he says. “The crowds are amazing. The first year that I did it, I was truly overwhelmed. I had to call my wife, Kate, and say please come down and help me. I hadn’t left my booth because there were people in it constantly, and I was starving, so she brought me some food,” he adds with a chuckle.

Block of Fame

Coffey says the festival will feature the “Block of Fame,” on Third Street between Hood and Kelly avenues. Everyone is welcome to come together to paint and place 14,400 wooden blocks, which will form a mosaic on the streets, for a chance to enter the Guinness Book of World Records.

At last year’s festival, Gresham created the largest-ever display of chalk pavement art, with 356 drawings.

Participation in the Block of Fame event is free and open to everyone. The city recommends reserving a set of blocks in advance. Wood, painting supplies and design instructions will be provided to ensure Guinness record requirements are met. Drop-ins are welcome between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

“No one else in the world has attempted this record, and when we break it, Gresham will be the first and only Guinness World Record Holder for the largest painted wooden block mosaic,” the city states on its website.

All ages are welcome and admission is free to the festival.

For more information, visit greshamoregon.gov/arts

festival/.

Highland Games

About 8,000 people are expected to attend The Portland Highland Games, which open with a Pre-Game Event staring at noon July 15. Admission is $5. The event features a heavy athletics competition, sheaf toss challenge, caber toss, piping competitions and whiskey tastings.

Then on Saturday, July 16, the Highland Games officially kick off at 8 a.m. Features of the day include a British motorcycle display, Scottish clan tents and children’s games and activities hosted by the Girl Scouts on the upper field. There will be a game history display in the gym, as well as workshops in fiddle, harp and bodhran.

Nancy Truszkowski, the games’ vice president of administration, says this year’s event is better than ever.

“The tug of war is going to be bigger this year with more teams,” she says, adding: “We have more competing drum majors than ever before, and two are women.”  

Kaelyne Mowell of Gresham has served as the games’ athletic director since 2001. Mowell adds that her maiden name is McClean and her grandparents hailed from Scotland.

A veteran of the competitions, she says 135 athletes will compete at this year’s games, and will come from the West Coast, Canada, Missouri, Kansas, Texas and Arizona.

“We get athletes from all over because it is considered very prestigious to compete in our games,” she says.

She adds that the women’s competitors and their events have expanded considerably over the years, increasing from just a handful of women before 2001 to 43 this year. Her own favorite event was caber tossing, which she says calls not just for strength, but skill and timing as well.

“You often have the person who is the strongest but who can’t flip it,” she says.

In addition to athletics, the games features such performers as the Royal Society of Scottish Country Dancers and Highland Dancers, solo pipers, and various Celtic musicians, including Bill Mullen, Dram & Go, Whiskey & Stitches, The Fire with Rebecca Lomnicky and David Brewer and Golden Bough.

Highlights of the day include welcoming ceremonies at 12:30 p.m. featuring the Northwest Scots Guard, the Portland Metro Pipe Band, a parade of clans and other activities.

During the afternoon, there will be a regimental drum major competition, a kilted mile race at 1 p.m., a kids’ Fun Run, open to ages 2 to 13, at 3 p.m., and various musical and dance events.

At 4:30 p.m., the tug of war takes place on the main field, and at 5 p.m. a parade of massed bands takes place.

The Mac MacTarnahan Memorial Challenge Caber Toss takes place at 5:30 p.m., and the games end at 6 p.m.

Ticket prices vary. For more information, visit phga.org.