LISTEN: The Portland Rose Festival and the Future of Large-Crowd Events in Oregon

Portland Monthly news editor Julia Silverman talks with Portland Rose Festival Foundation CEO Jeff Curtis about challenges large outdoor events are facing this year.

By Gabriel Granillo March 19, 2021

The Queen's Coronation at the 2020 Rose Festival in Washington Park. 

In the last few weeks we’ve seen bouts of good news regarding the coronavirus, signs that give us hope for the upcoming spring and summer. Earlier in March, President Biden announced that he would direct all states, tribes, and territories to make every adult eligible to be vaccinated no later than May 1. It took some time, but on Wednesday, March 17, Oregon Health Authority announced it would be able to meet the president’s timeline. Further, new guidance from OHA has expanded the capacity for indoor and outdoor activities in the state.

But even as COVID vaccinations go up and caseloads go down, festivals and other large-crowd events have been playing it safe, and are either changing their formats drastically or not happening at all. Most recently, the Portland Rose Festival, for the second summer in a row, announced it would not host its Grand Floral Parade or City Fair. Typically a huge deal and the historic summer kickoff in Portland, the Rose Festival will again operate on a smaller scale, with virtual and limited in-person events. The announcement has got us thinking about what the future might look like for large-crowd events. 

For this week’s episode of Footnotes, Portland Monthly news editor Julia Silverman spoke with Portland Rose Festival Foundation CEO Jeff Curtis about its decision to forgo its traditional festival and how the coronavirus is shaping other large-crowd events in Oregon.



  • Jeff Curtis, Portland Rose Festival CEO

About Footnotes

Every Friday we break down our most important stories with the writers, contributors, and editors who crafted them. Hosted by Portland Monthly digital editor Gabriel Granillo, Footnotes provides clarity on complex stories with intimate and informative interviews.

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