First ‘street fair’ celebrates Montavilla’s resurgence

See all the merriment that took place at this first area-wide event, held in the historic ‘downtown’ Montavilla area along SE Stark Street …

Fritz Hirsch, Public Safety Chair for the Montavilla Neighborhood Association, and volunteer Joanna Beatty (she’s holding Ursula), tell folks about the neighborhood association.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It wasn’t but a few years ago when SE Stark Street in downtown Montavilla looked like a ghost town. With virtually no retail stores, and few dining establishments and no entertainment available, it certainly was not a “destination main street”.

As the neighborhood gentrified, and business “pioneers” established shops, one new business after another opened up their doors in downtown Montavilla. The Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association (M/ETBA) started, and later grew in size.

Attracted by the Montavilla Street Fair, visitors stroll west along SE Stark Street.

Now, Montavilla features a burgeoning farmers market – unique retail shops are open, as are restaurants, lounges – and the historic Academy Theater is again showing movies.

Indeed, the neighborhood has good reason to celebrate, and so they did on Sunday, July 17, at their first Montavilla Street Fair.

“This is our first Montavilla Street Fair,” said Mia Neuse, who’s on the board of M/ETBA.

“Even though it was a somewhat rainy day, we’ve had a very nice turnout,” Neuse noted. “Spirits have been high. People enjoyed shopping at the Montavilla Farmers Market, and there’ve been great music and a wonderful choice of vendors. It was great to see Mayor Sam Adams, when he visited.

With the street fair successfully underway, event organizer Bridgette Bayer of Business Association Management, Mia Neuse from Montavilla Community Acupuncture, and M/ETBA Co-President Kristin Schuchman of Mixed Media Marketing Communications, take a moment to relax.

“We really love the neighborhood and our community,” exclaimed Neuse, who pointed out that she lives within walking distance of her clinic.

“The Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association works hard to do things that bring people together,” Neuse continued. “The committee that runs our farmers market also continues to do a good job. With the cooperation of our neighborhood, we created this street fair to help bring people into the neighborhood and also to welcome visitors here.”

Visitors crowd streets closed off north of SE Stark Street, where vendors greet folks coming in to attend the street fair.

Rob Johnston is one of the performers who entertain throughout the day.

A core group of about 10 volunteers worked for months to organize the event, Neuse pointed out. “We had another 15 people pitch in and help today, during the event. I believe we had close to 50 vendors, which is excellent for our first year.”

It’s a delightful street fair, says Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz.

Dodging the raindrops didn’t bother her, said Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who strolled through the fair, talking with visitors.

“We’re Oregonians; we work and play, rain or shine,” Fritz remarked. “The best part of what I seehere is neighbors getting together, building community spirit, and supporting their neighborhood business district.”

Based on the enthusiastic response of visitors this year, organizers say they’re already looking forward to holding a Second Annual Montavilla Street Fair. “That’s the plan,” Neuse smiled. “If we can do this well in the rain, next summer when it’s sunny, I think we can do even better.”

For more information see the Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association’s web page: CLICK HERE. And, to learn more about the Montavilla Neighborhood Association, see their site: CLICK HERE.

Nancy Yeamans and Tamara Larison tell folks about Portland Metro Arts, now located just a few blocks east on SE Stark Street.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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