Boom year for Lents Fair

See all that you missed if you didn’t spend some time at this year’s better-than-ever ‘Lents Fair’ now an outer East Portland tradition …

The midway fills with families looking for a fun-filled day at the 2019 Lents Fair.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

After a decades-old tradition of Lents Founders Day events in August – complete with a parade around Lents Park, and a music concert in the now-demolished Lents Music Gazebo – this tradition seemed to have withered, and nearly died out.

But, thanks to the diligent efforts of volunteers, the spirit of the celebration has been revived, becoming the Lents Street Fair – where the Chicken Beauty Contest made its début, and finally leading to the Lents Fair – the most recent of which was held on August 11, in the field along SE 92nd Avenue.

Continuing to take on the challenge of putting on this major community celebration is Lents Fair Event Coordinator Robert Schultz.

“It’s true; after new volunteers picked up the mantle and created the Lents Street Fair, taking place on vacant lots – lots that have since become the site of major buildings in Lents Town Center – it looked as if the tradition of holding a big neighborhood event might end,” remarked Fair Event Coordinator Robert Schultz.

“Through the peaks and valleys of the neighborhood association, it became difficult to find locations and volunteers; and, three years ago, nobody wanted to take the project on – so I did, in the corner of Lents Park!” recalled Schultz.

Examining the Lents History exhibit are Hazelwood neighbors Renee Bostian and Shannon Jurgens.

This year’s Lents Fair included a professional stage and sound system for entertainers, and offered 130 vendors for visitors to browse. “The Fair provides booth space for a modest price to encourage local businesses and organizations to participate,” Schultz told East Portland News. “But it’s far more that being about vendors selling stuff; we’re also offering lots of free, fun family activities!”

These makers, Lents neighbor Jami LeBaron and her Bentwood-Darlington neighborhood partner Morgan Schafer of Campatall  show and sell their savaged wood, hand-made crafts.

Kids enjoy taking the “Iceberg Challenge” – in perhaps the largest “bouncy house” ever.

Dingo squeaks together balloon animals and toys in the Kids Zone.

This year, this included entertainment by Olive and Dingo; a 90-foot long “bouncy” obstacle course, with a 26-foot inflatable slide; face painting, offered by Lents Youth Initiative; and an expanded FIRST Robotics exhibit, featuring their local Lents team, Team 1432 – the “Metal Beavers”.

And, five musical groups entertained crowds throughout the Fair, from open to close.

Checking out the Lents Chicken Beauty Contest are Borfus Wallaby and Zoe, and Addison Haliski and Mike Haliski – who say they’re visiting from the Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood.

A major attraction of the Fair, now in its fifth year, is the famous one-and-only Lents Chicken Beauty Contest. According to originator and manager Jonah Willbach, they rapidly attained their maximum number of entries – 19 chickens this year – weeks before the Fair took place.

Meet this year’s Lents Chicken Beauty Contest winner: Wendy, with Azteca – a Tolbunt Polish. Image courtesy Lents Chicken Beauty

This year, prizes for the contest’s adult, kids, and “people’s choice” categories were provided by Foster Feed and Garden and Scratch n Peck Feed.

A handful of people work to organize and produce the Fair throughout the year, Schultz said. “Today we have more than 40 volunteers on-site helping with our Fair today – all of them people who do this to give back to our community by providing a positive event like this in our community.”

Supplying brews for the beer garden are Andrea Keley and Anna Neudorfer from Lents’ own Zoiglhaus Brewery.

“While it seems that the City of Portland’s leadership is pointing to the failures of neighborhood associations, this Fair – which brings people together from all cultural backgrounds – is primarily a service of volunteers within our neighborhood associations,” Schultz commented.

Singing her hits with her band, on stage, is Versa Jean.

“In the end, for people visiting today from all over the greater Portland area, I also think this Fair demonstrates that the Lents neighborhood is a safe place to be, and a great place to raise a family!

“But for me, it’s simply wonderful to see the kids walk in with their families and have a great time,” Schultz said, as he turned back to managing the Fair.

© 2019 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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