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Oregon’s festival season: ‘It’s going to be a tragedy’

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Phase III of Gov. Kate Brown’s reopening framework includes high-risk large gatherings

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Large gatherings in Oregon like festivals and fairs will have to be postponed or canceled this summer unless a better coronavirus treatment is found under Gov. Kate Brown’s new guidelines

The news came as a disappointment to those looking forward to events held across the state. 

Portland’s Waterfront is typically a hotbed of festival activity and the Cinco de Mayo celebration is usually well underway this time of year. 

Brown said the Oregon Health Authority is recommending large gatherings be canceled, postponed or modified at least through September. 

“Large gatherings including live sports events with audiences, concerts, festivals and conventions will not be able to return until we have a reliable treatment or prevention, like a vaccine,” Brown said. 

Brown’s framework likely means this summer will look vastly different than what Oregonians are used to.

“I think it’s going to be a tragedy because a lot of people, businesses, are predicated upon that,” said Thomas McGuire of Portland. 

But some people are still planning to keep traditions alive in the meantime. 

Some artists joined a “Virtual First Thursday Art Celebration” organized by the Urban Art Network and the Pearl District Business Associaton as an alternative to the street fair in Portland’s Pearl District they would normally take part in. 

Julie Gustafson, the executive director of the Pearl District Business Association, told KOIN 6 News they’re “finding new ways to highlight what’s so great about Portland and the creative community here.” 

Artists like Alex Meyer and Ursula Barton shared their work during the virtual event. 

But other events simply can’t function without a physical presence. Portland will be a lot quieter this Fourth of July without the Waterfront Blues Festival, which organizers decided to cancel back in March

“I’m going to miss the Blues Festival down here this year,” said David Gilchrist of Portland. “It’s sad but it’s a new sign of the times, I guess.” 

Others haven’t given up all hope on summer festivals just yet. 

“As this pandemic slows down, hopefully, they can find a way to bring small crowds together to make it eventful for the city,” said McGuire. 

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