Second East Portland Expo a record-smashing success

See why, by all measures, this event has matured into an outstanding event, attracting visitors to outer East Portland from all over the metro area, in this lavishly photo-illustrated story …

Tom Barnes, chair of Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association’s Public Safety Committee, welcomes visitors to their association’s booth at the 2010 East Portland Exposition.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
What started out as an idea in the back of an outer East Portland neighbor’s mind – a street fair for residents of the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood – has grown, in its second season, into a substantial, area-wide summertime event called the “East Portland Exposition” (EPO XPO).

Mark White, President of the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association – and the 2009 Spirit of Portland award-winner – agreed that this two-day fair is a lot of work.

At the East Portland Neighborhood Office exhibit, Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman greets Arlene Kimura, Chair of the Hazelwood Neighborhood Association; Tom Lewis, Chair of the Centennial Community Association; Alesia Reese, Chair of the Woodland Park Neighborhood Association; and Richard Bixby, EPNO’s Executive Director.

Street party grows into regional fair
“But this is so much worth the effort,” White exclaimed at the event. “I drive by Ed Benedict Park, here on SE Powell Boulevard, almost every day, and thought it would be the perfect place for an event like this. It’s the right size, it’s close to the Powell Boulevard MAX Park and Ride, and there are a couple of schools nearby with lots of parking spaces.”

As time went on, White said, he realized that a more sizeable event would benefit all of the outer East Portland neighborhoods, by attracting people into the area. “It kind of got morphed into ‘East Portland Exposition’ when we planned our event last year.”

A steady stream of neighbors check in at the Portland Transportation Bureau’s booth, to learn more about the “Outer Powell Boulevard Conceptual Design Plan”.

East Portland Action Plan Advocate Lore Wintergreen listens to the concerns of a neighbor who is visiting the fair.

Learning from their first event last summer, White redesigned the 2010 EPO XPO, making it more compact, and adding more entertainment and events.

“This year, we featured 91 exhibitors, ranging from the Midway Business Association to governmental agencies, non-profit organizations, and medical providers,” White noted. “And that doesn’t include the food vendors.”

EPO XPO organizer Mark White pauses for a moment with Ashley Blake and Julia Doty, of Northwest Housing Alternatives, who enhanced this year’s expo by staging a Multicultural Share Fair within the event.

Multicultural Share Fair featured
A new feature at this year’s EPO XPO was called the Multicultural Share Fair. Within an area of the festival, there were five “cultural villages” – a Latin American village, a Russian village, a Native American village, a Haitian village, and a Middle Eastern village.

“Our organization, Northwest Housing Alternatives – a nonprofit affordable housing organization – was awarded an East Portland Neighborhood Small Grant to stage a Multicultural Share Fair this summer,” said Ashley Blake. “But, when we learned more about the East Portland Exposition, we thought instead it might be a nice collaboration.”

Melissa Schachner, a Little Shell Chippewa, says she’s representing the non-profit Bow & Arrow Culture Club, as she shows visitors how to make a “Family Talking Stick” n the Native American Village within the Multicultural Share Fair at EPO XPO.

Mr. White was all smiles as he commented, “I’ve been so incredibly impressed with the work that they’ve done. What they’ve created goes far beyond my expectations. This addition to our event is important, because our community is made up of people who are ‘all colors of the rainbow’. The Multicultural Share Fair honors and celebrates outer East Portland’s wonderful ethnic diversity.”

Attendance estimated at 10,000 visitors
During the Expo, we asked White how he felt about this year’s attendance. “I’m very pleased with the people we’ve had visiting us here this year; yes, oh my gosh, yes!”

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz is one of the many visitors to this year’s EPO XPO.

After the event, White told us that, due to the free and open admission policy at the Expo, it was difficult to gauge the exact attendance. “Our volunteers agree that we had between 7,500 and 10,000 visitors during our two-day event. We were so pleased that many bicyclists who were participating in Sunday Bikeways stopped by to visit.”

Add to this the estimated 2,500 folks who dropped by the fair before each evening’s Portland Parks & Recreation “Movie in the Park” showing, “It makes us pretty comfortable with that 10,000 figure,” concluded White.

Taking a turn helping out at the “bounce house”, Matt Parker is one of dozens of volunteers who helped make this year’s event run smoothly.

One thing White wanted us to point out is that he didn’t run the event by himself. “I’m indebted to all of the volunteers who helped so much, before, during, and after this year’s EPO XPO. More than two dozen on-site volunteers – from those who picked up trash, to others who operated our kids’ attractions – they helped make this a real success.”

Expo to return in 2011
Just days after this year’s event ended, White said he’s started working on the 2011 edition. “I’m already writing grant applications. And, I’m looking forward to seeing this event continue to grow.”

2010 East Portland Exposition
Photo Album

Singer/songwriter Christian Burghardt and his band get ready to play a set, on the main entertainment stage.

Brandon Huala and Sarah Moody enjoy a good romp in the Bounce House.

Members of the Taoist Tai Chi Society demonstrate their Taoist Tai Chi™ taijiquan, that they say is a low-impact exercise designed to enhance health.

In the Oregon Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation Mobile Testing Facility, Brenda Anderson checks this lad’s eyesight.

Adventist Health medical assistant Evan Mitchell takes Bonnie Bettencourt’s blood pressure in the cool comfort of their mobile health screening unit.

Back in the play area, big brother Alec Rasmussen and takes his little sister, Sydney, for an exciting ride down the Really Big Slide.

Bob Garcia and Alan Bates from Portland American Legion Post #1 are grilling hot burgers and hot dogs for hungry EPO XPO visitors.

Here, representing the Midway Business Association, is member Terrie Kay Casey with TK Embroidery.

Entertaining with their funk-jazz-rock infusion style of music is the band, Roads Less Traveled.

Demonstrating the art of flower arranging is Phyllis Danielson, lead instructor with the Ohara School of Ikebana.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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