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It's festival time

Newberg's annual rite kicks off Thursday with kids' parade, dog costume contest and coronation

It’s time for Newberg’s signature Old Fashioned Festival, which for 36 years has brought thousands of locals and visitors together for a summertime party.

This year’s theme is “Christmas in July,” a bit of a change from some of the common themes focusing on something from the past. The idea came from festival publicist Laura Reese and her father, parade coordinator Brian Love, who are both big-time Christmas enthusiasts and put on a popular holiday display each winter.GARY ALLEN - The Grand Festival Parade is slated for 10 a.m. Saturday on a circuitous route through southern Newberg.

Bringing the concept into the summer festival proved to be popular and it was a “very well accepted theme,” festival chairwoman Kimberly Zoutendijk said.

Of course, the longest-running and most popular events of the festival are the 5K run (now in its 35th year), the fireworks show and the grand parade.

Keeping with the Christmas in July theme, Santa Claus will be making plenty of appearances during the weekend. He’ll be driving in the kids’ parade on Thursday, he’ll be at the children’s stage on Friday, riding a firetruck in the grand parade Saturday, and appearing at the Rotary Pancake Breakfast on Sunday morning.

“There will be lots of opportunities for kids to get an early update on how Christmas is coming along,” Zoutendijk said.

Or, Reese added, to “wish Santa well on his summer vacation.”

But a host of other events also draw a good turnout, from the Scout Expo and the Antique Fire Apparatus Show and Pump-In, to the Newberg’s Got Talent youth talent show and the festival carnival.

As of early this week the Cruise-In automotive event had about 60 cars registered, with a good variety of all-American classics: a 1948 Ford coupe, a 1937 Ford Slantback, and a 1928 Ford T-bucket are among those that will be in the cruise-in, which runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at Memorial Park.

While many will admire the classics for their condition and rarity alone, sometimes learning the backstory behind the vehicle is also a treat. For instance, attendees might learn the history of a 1955 Chevy dubbed “Miss Taboo” and owned by a man in Sherwood, who bought the car, sold it, bought it back again, sold it again and bought it back yet again, with more upgrades installed each time it changed hands.

There are a number of Newberg registrants, but classic car enthusiasts from Oregon City, Beaverton, Portland and as far as Camas, Wash., are also making the trek to town, cruise-in coordinator Lesley Carsley said.

A new feature this year is a “merchant’s pick” award. About 16 local businesses are sending representatives to select their choice for best automobiles in the show.

A-dec Inc. founder Ken Austin’s car collection will also be open for viewing, with a shuttle running back and forth from the cruise-in to his collection. Newberg Chevrolet will host a cordoned-off area at the cruise-in featuring a collection of new, high-end cars on display.

Besides the celebration of classic Americana, this year’s festival marks the second instance of a street art effort with a new international twist, in honor of Newberg’s special guests this summer.

The Chehalem Cultural Center will distribute 300 chalk art kits (up from 200 last year) from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday that aim to facilitate artwork in the streets, regardless of experience, artistic prowess or any other factor.

“It’s not just for kids, this is for anyone,” CCC Executive Director Rob Dailey said. “We’ve had professional artists who do it and little kids who do it. It’s for everybody.”

The kit includes a map of the areas promoting chalk art (which are generally blocked-off streets that are made into pedestrian zones for the festival), as well as instructions and an Austrian flag.

The flag will honor the festival’s special guests this year, representatives from Poysdorf, Austria, Newberg’s sister city. Their whirlwind visit to the local area includes an appearance in the grand parade – when bystanders will be encouraged to wave the flags included in the chalk art kits – as well as a talk at the CCC at 2 p.m. Sunday, among numerous other activities.

The Austrian flag may serve as inspiration or a jumping-off point for the street art, but the main point is to be creative, regardless of the subject.

“Whatever inspires you, whatever comes to your mind, anything you want to create is absolutely endorsed and encouraged,” Dailey said. The pedestrian zones will be located in the plaza in front of the CCC, along Howard Street next to the Brews & BBQ field, farther down Howard Street by Memorial Park, and in front of the carnival along Sixth Street. Chalk art is also encouraged along the First Street sidewalk, although the street will not be closed.

Some lighthearted fun will come near the beginning of the festival with the annual dog costume contest, which generally draws between 20 and 30 costumed canines.

Over the years dogs have donned cowboy, bumblebee and even fisherman costumes, pining for the top prizes of best costume in small, medium and large categories, as well as the costume that best represents the festival theme – meaning there will likely be some holiday costumes this year.

“Particularly in the small dog category you just see the funniest things,” organizer Cathy Martin said.

There will also be booths with local animal organizations and businesses offering information and dog treats.

The contest, which is just for fun and is not American Kennel Club-certified, has a few requirements: friendly dogs, friendly pet owners and the dogs must enjoy being dressed up in a costume. Registration begins at 6 p.m. Thursday evening at the Renne Field tennis court, with the contest following at 6:30 p.m. It runs about an hour, finishing in time for the queen’s coronation.

As for the chairwoman’s favorite part about the festival, it’s a simple point but one that binds the weekend together.

“There’s no expectations or anything, but just the opportunities to make great memories,” Zoutendijk said. “Everybody just comes together as one big community which is exactly what we are.”

To learn more about the festival and schedule, visit www.newbergoldfashionedfestival.com.