Rose Fest Milk Carton Boat Regatta returns to Westmoreland’s casting pond

Find out when this beloved Portland Rose Festival event will be held – and how you can participate – by reading this one …

Kristen Teel, Event Manager for the Portland Rose Festival, paddles the first milk carton boat on the Westmoreland Park’s casting pond since it was closed for reconstruction several years ago.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For nearly three decades, one of the Rose Festival’s most fun events – and one of the few east of the Willamette River – was the Milk Carton Boat Regatta at the Westmoreland Park casting pond.

But, when Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) closed the pond for repairs, and a squabble about water rights ensued, Westmoreland Par’s landmark pool sat empty for years, scuttling hopes that the Milk Carton Boat Races could resume.

Portland Rose Festival Foundation President Robert Hansen proclaims the return of the Milk Carton Boat Races to Westmoreland, scheduled for June 7th.

Pete Kent, Executive Director of the Oregon Dairy Association, says his organization is proud to sponsor the returning event – as Portland Rose Festival’s Robert Hansen, 2009 Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassador Deanna Lemire, and PP&R SE Zone Manager Jeff Milkes look on.

Return of the Regatta
About two years ago, unused water rights from the Eastmoreland Golf Course were transferred to the park, filling the pond with water from Crystal Springs Creek. As a bonus, PP&R draws from the pond for park irrigation, instead of paying for City water. Even with a clean, working pond, no sponsors came forward for the once-famous family event.

Then, in early April, at a ceremony at the south edge of the Westmoreland casting pond, Portland Rose Festival Foundation’s President, Robert Hansen, announced “the return of one of the most historically popular events, the Portland Rose Festival Milk Carton Boat Races.”

Hansen recalled that, in 1973, members of the Oregon Dairy Farmers Commission approached the Rose Festival with the event, modeled after a similar event in Minneapolis. “This pond was just made for this event. The race was an instant hit, and it held its popularity for more than 30 years. Many generations of Portland families have paddled milk cartons across this pond.”

2009 Oregon Dairy Princess Deanna Lemire and Portland Rose Festival President Robert Hansen toast the returning milk carton boat race event.

Dairy farmers underwrite event
Pete Kent, executive director of the Oregon Dairy Association, thanked the Portland Rose Festival for helping them bring back the event, and PP&R for restoring the pond and providing clean, clear water.

“This event represents a great relationship between the community and dairy farmers, and it shows how dairy farmers are involved in their communities,” Kent told us. “And it’s a great way to celebrate the healthy, great-tasting dairy products of our state. We love having our products showcased at the Portland Rose Festival.”

2009 Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassador Deanna Lemire and Portland Rose Festival President Robert Hansen christen the first milk carton craft to float on Westmoreland Park’s casting pond in many years.

Toast and commutative float
Brandishing bottles of milk, 2009 Oregon Dairy Princess Deanna Lemire and Hansen toasted the returning event at pond-side, and then christened the “SS Portland Rose Festival” demonstration milk carton watercraft.

“As President of the Rose Festival Foundation,” Hansen proclaimed, “I officially sanction the Dairy Farmers of Oregon Rose Festival Milk Carton Boat Regatta. It is now time for a whole new generation of Portlanders to come forward and show their building skills. We want to see the sleekest, the silliest, and the most outrageous creations one can imagine, right here on Sunday, June 7th.”

Free jugs at boat-building classes
Across Portland, they’ve been holding “milk carton boat building workshops”.  Check back next week – we’ll tell you all about the classes we attended! And, also next week, we’ll post all of the official rules and regulations.

CLICK HERE for more details about the Dairy Farmers of Oregon Milk Carton Boat Races, and get real-time updates on Twitter by following @MlkCartonRace09.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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