Katie Murphy brings big-city performers and movies to Sandy

by: POST PHOTO: JIM HART - Katie Murphy stands in front of the entrance to Meinig Memorial Park, where she has organized concerts and movie showings during each summer for the past 10 years.Katie Murphy lives in the Scenic Meadows neighborhood with her husband, Tracy, and their daughter, Molly.

But residents of other Sandy neighborhoods and their neighbors on the mountain or in Boring will remember Murphy as the reason they enjoy summer.

Murphy is dedicated to providing several types of entertainment for all ages during the summer months — not just one day a week, but three days every week plus special events at the library.

Coming to Sandy 11 years ago from a large city, Murphy said she never dreamed she’d be standing on a stage introducing a name performer to a large audience. She was too shy for that.

But when her family arrived in Sandy, she asked where they could find entertainment — the kind she had enjoyed so much in the big city.

“It felt like there was nothing going on out here,” she said of that time. “I asked if it was possible to get people to come here to perform, and they said only if I want to do it.”

That’s when she volunteered to get some acts to come to the community center.

Another music series was ongoing at Meinig Park, but the woman coordinating that series moved away from Sandy in 2004, so Murphy stepped in to fill her shoes. Meanwhile, Mayor Linda Malone was coordinating Movies in Meinig.

So Murphy became a contract employee of the city to promote, publicize and organize musical concerts — eventually on Wednesdays and Sundays — as well as movies on Saturdays.

She had convinced Community Services Director Nancy Enabnit that all the activities should be under her umbrella.

“I made a lame estimate of how long it would take me (to coordinate these activities), and in the end I probably earn a dollar an hour. But I love it, so I can’t give it up,” she said.

It wasn’t long before Library Director Beth Scarth recognized Murphy’s abilities to promote activities and bring popular entertainers to Sandy.

That’s when Scarth brought Murphy onto her staff as a library clerk as well as the promoter of the Library Coffee House entertainment during First Friday events.

If Murphy has done one thing for the people of the Sandy area, it is to introduce them to diverse styles and genres of entertainment — at the library and in Meinig Park.

“I am trying to give people an opportunity that they otherwise might not have,” she said. “We live out here, and it’s a trek into Portland. You’re not necessarily going to see a Middle Eastern band or the opera. But you can come into your own neighborhood (in Sandy) and be exposed to different styles of music.”

One of the reasons the city has been able to afford the cost of high-quality performances is because Murphy has found private sponsors to add to the city’s contribution to her budget.

The reason Murphy has been able to locate such high-quality performers is because of her hands-on education over the past 10 years, and her relentless researching — looking for the most popular entertainers.

“It’s really important for me to get high quality,” she said, “but I also like to bring new groups. We have such an incredibly rich musical culture in Portland.”

What keeps the performers begging to come back to Sandy is the welcome they get from local audiences, Murphy said.

“Even though audiences are not as big as in Portland, they are really engaged,” she said. “And we take good care of (performers). Now, the performers contact me, and I have to turn some of them away (to maintain diversity).”

Murphy isn’t thinking about moving on. She’s having too much fun, watching her life develop into just what she had hoped. She’s working in the Sandy and Estacada libraries during the day, and organizing entertainment for her neighbors in the evening. For her efforts, she says she feels appreciated, and that makes a lot of difference.

“I feel like people really appreciate having this opportunity,” Murphy said. “I am told this all the time, and that’s what keeps me going. And because people are enjoying (the music), that’s what keeps me wanting to do it again.”

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