Successful ‘Festival of Nations’ hosted in Midway district

See the enthusiasm generated by this new, international Division Midway Alliance event …

Hundreds of folks come to the first Festival of Nations — held in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood – and visit with the dozens of vendor on the midway.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Pleasant weather always helps, when it comes to outdoor events, and the lovely pre-fall weather boosted turnout on September 20 for the first-ever “Festival of Nations”, held at the Division Center Shopping Center parking lot at the intersection of SE 122nd Avenue and SE Division Street.

The four-hour festival offered entertainment, including live music; Gentle Biff making balloon animals; and the zany antics of Cha Cha the Clown. Additionally there were booths with representatives from many local businesses, as well as nonprofit organizations, governmental agencies, and service organizations.

Nancy Hales and Mayor Charlie Hales are greeted by outer East Portland’s “Emissary of Joy” Cha Cha the Clown.

“The Division-Midway area is a wonderful part of our community,” grinned Portland Mayor Charlie Hales.

“There are a couple of great things going on here,” Hales told East Portland News. “First, outer East Portland is organizing itself as a community, and partnering up with businesses and the public sector – whether it’s me, or the county – and that’s good. That’s how community organizing its done.”

Nepali gardeners from the Outgrowing Hunger gardens sell fresh vegetables at the fair.

And second, Hales continued, “Is that we are celebrating the amazing diversity of East Portland. For example, Students of David Douglas High School at home speak more languages than students of any other school in the state. We are in a very diverse, and changing, part of the city.

“Here, at this event today, we have the entire community, embracing them all,” Hales added. “I love it.”

While the band played, visitors mingled, visited exhibits, and dined at the festival on international faire.

Playing Nepali rhythms and singing tunes infused with blues, rock, and jazz, is the Mandah Band.

Patricia Vazquez, working under the Jade District and DMA Pacemaking Grant program demonstrates her project while pulling a silk screen print. “I collected sayings in the different languages that are here in the Jade and Division Midway to strict and are making posters for the public to take and enjoy,” Vazquez says.

DMA’s Lori Boisen spends a moment with volunteer Haru Poliakoff.

“The theme of our Festival of Nations is ‘Where cultures come together’,” said Division Midway Alliance for Community Improvement (DMA) District Manager Lori Boisen.

“This is the third annual September fair that DMA has organized,” Boysen said, “but the first of this kind, and the first at this location. A highlight here today is the food tent, with the cuisines of seven cultures represented.”

Foods of many cultures are served at the Festival of Nations.

Marake Wondwossen learns more about the David Douglas Historical Society from Delores Wood, who tells of the campaign to find a permanent home for their museum collection.

Their goal was to establish a casual, entertaining environment where disparate cultures can mingle, noted Boisen.

“And, it’s so important for us to help connect members of our greater community with our businesses district members. With this, we help create a sense of community with our businesses and our residents. The idea is to build a stronger business district while serving members of our community.”

You don’t have to be in business to participate in the DMA, Boisen pointed out. “All it takes to be interested in participating in helping our community improve.”

People from many nations gather at the Festival of Nations.

Learn more about the DMA by visiting their website: CLICK HERE.

On our Front Page: Supporters raise funds for “Nepalese ReBuild”, dedicated to helping eathquake victims in Nepal.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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