Big family fun at Lents Parade and Street Fair

Who would believe a ‘Chicken Beauty Pageant’ would be such an attraction? See why this year’s fair was a success …

The Beat Goes On marching band leads off the Lents Founder’s Parade – a prelude to the 2015 Lents Street Fair.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Building on the success of the celebration last year – combining the Ramona Street Fair with Lents Founders Day – this year’s “Lents Street Fair and Founder’s Parade” kicked off in the late morning of July 26.

At about 11:00 a.m. the Lents Founder’s Parade began to assemble, in a parking lot across from Portland Fire & Rescue Station 11 on SE 92nd Avenue, just north of SE Foster Road.

Lents Street Fair and Founder’s Parade organizer Amanda Gerace says dozens of volunteers worked make it successful.

“We believe this is important to do, as we’re working to build more of a sense of community in our neighborhood,” remarked this year’s organizer, Amanda Gerace.

“In doing this we’re creating some fun interactive events that help our neighbors feel proud to live here, and to get to know each other at the same time, Gerace told East Portland News.

These “kids” (young goats), born this spring in Lents to the Famous Belmont Goats herd, ride in the parade.

It’s Dingo Dizmal and his wife Olive Rootbeer – both clowns, working out of Southeast Portland – riding in the Founder’s Day Parade.

These practitioners of “Dance Orientale”, with Gypsy Heart Tribal, sashay through Lents in the Founder’s Day Parade.

“And, we want to show the rest of Portland that we’re a pretty cool neighborhood, and a great place to live,” Gerace added. “We really have some great neighbors here.”

Lents Founders Day, usually held in Lents Park with its accompanying parade, has quite a long history in the neighborhood, she pointed out.

“Not everybody wants to walk in a parade,” Gerace conceded. “So, the Street Fair is a way to encourage people from all walks of life to show up at a neighborhood event. We also have some neighborhood history exhibits in the Street Fair area, where people can learn about our founder, Oliver P. Lent.”

Leading folks into the Lents Street Fair, the Beat Goes On marching band travels through the exhibits.

Held just west of the Lents International Farmers Market, the Street Fair attracted many visitors who hadn’t been aware of this outdoor food center. Both events shared a crowd numbering into the thousands, who visited both the market its 50 commercial, non-profit and governmental exhibitors.

Chicken Beauty Contest promoters Jonah Willbach and Maggie Kearns-Willbach show off the lovely first-place trophy plaque.

A highlight of the Lents Street Fair turned out to be the “Chicken Beauty Pageant”.

“I was disappointed that although it was planned, it did not happen last year,” said contest organizer Jonah Willbach. “I decided to take it upon myself, and got my wife involved to help, and we put it together. We had people bring their loveliest chickens, and everybody gets to vote on them.”

And vote they did! “Chicken judges” – voting visitors – looked over the 15 fowl contestants and cast a total of 668 ballots.

“All of the entries win a prize bag, provided by Foster Feed & Garden,” Willbach said. “The first place prize is a trophy and a 50 pound bag of organic chicken feed!”

The winner: Penelope, a white silkie. Photo courtesy of Lents Chicken Beauty Contest

A favorite local band, Garden Goat, a “sci-fish post-punk Celtic bardic indie rock ’n’ roll band”, is ready to play a set on the stage sponsored by the Lents Eagle Eye Tavern.

The Lents Street Fair fills with visitors.

Fun for all ages: Cassidy de la Pena takes a slide from the bounce house.

The afternoon was filled with music, shopping, socializing, and playing. The festivities were dampened by a brief rain shower in the late afternoon, but that didn’t seem to diminish the fun for those who waited it out.

In all, Gerace and her band of volunteers pulled off a big-time festival, in what was once a small country town.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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