Since launching five years ago, the summer social extravaganza that is Taste of Parkrose has earned its red-carpet treatment. It’s now the neighborhood’s biggest yearly event, reporting more than 2,000 visitors in 2017 and a projected 25 percent increase in attendees this year. The notably free event is raising the bar for year five, which will debut Saturday, June 23, at Rossi Farms, 3829 N.E. 122nd Ave., from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Taste of Parkrose is the proud brainchild of Historic Parkrose (HP), Prosper Portland’s local nonprofit dedicated to supporting Parkrose’s business community. In addition to mapping out community events, Historic Parkrose offers an array of storefront improvement grants and technical assistance in its target area of Northeast 99th to 112th avenues along Sandy Boulevard.
This year, the organization is again teaming up with partner Parkrose Hardware, a hardware chain with locations in Portland, Vancouver Heights, Hazel Dell and Vancouver, Washington, in hosting the event. Other sponsors include Prosper Portland and Gateway Brewing. “This is the second year that we’re able to put on a festival of this volume, and each time you do it, you can take it up a level,” says Samantha Montanaro, chair of Historic Parkrose, who is also a director for the nonprofit Venture Portland, which connects and supports business districts across Portland. “We tried taste tickets and wristbands for the first time last year, and we’re tweaking that. We’re aiming for more vendors; we’re hoping for a higher attendance; we’re expecting more than last year. This marks the first year that Taste of Parkrose will hopefully feel like this community event that happens each year and is predictable for families.”
For Montanaro, she’s noticed rapid changes in Parkrose since first calling it home four years ago. “Since we began this event, Parkrose has gone from feeling like people like to keep to themselves to being more welcoming. People are coming out of the woodworks, and Taste of Parkrose––as well as Historic Parkrose––is volunteer-run, though with Historic Parkrose, we’re fortunate to have a couple of [Prosper Portland] staff members. For Taste of Parkrose, we have about 65 volunteers.”
On Taste of Parkrose’s origin story, HP District Manager Mingus Mapps comments, “Our goal was to pull together an event that brought the neighborhood together. Originally, we did it just off [106th Avenue and] Sandy Boulevard, with the goal of drawing neighbors out of their houses and into the street, so they could meet each other and discover new businesses. Over time, as it’s grown bigger, we’ve had to move it to larger spaces to accommodate more people. First, it was that stretch of Sandy, then the parking lot of Grocery Outlet, and now Rossi Farms, which we’re hoping will be our home for a while.”
Indeed, in five years, the event has reflected its growth in more ways than characteristic location swaps. It includes a few events that, by design, alternate their key players each year. One example is the Taste of Parkrose Fun Run, a mini-race that is run by a group of volunteers representing a local high school group in return for a sliver of Taste of Portland’s proceeds. Last year, the Fun Run was overseen by the Parkrose High School football team and theater department. It raised $1,500 for the Parkrose High School football program, in addition to its Key Club. “We shift around each year,” says Mapps. “Last year, we had the football team and the theater department. This year, it’s being coordinated by the Parkrose High School cross-country team.”
This year, the Fun Run will take place, at least partially, in the fresh-faced Luuwit View Park (formerly Beech Park), which opened last fall. Luuwit View Park itself is an example of Parkrose’s ongoing growth spurt. Additionally, kids will have a Fun Run all to themselves for the first time. “We also have a Kid’s Fun Run in the morning where we’ll do a short dash with prizes,” explains Montanaro, who herself is a mother to a young son. “It hasn’t been done in other years, but this year we’ll be there at 9 a.m.”
Kids may also employ ulterior motives for showing up in large swaths. Taste of Parkrose 2018 features everything from petting zoos and a bounce house to arts and craft stations for those who are more right-brained.
Without question, the signature event at Taste of Parkrose is its “EGGFest,” a family-friendly community barbecue. Portlanders are foodies by design, and “EGGFest” features some of Parkrose Hardware’s signature Big Green Egg grills, which will be cooking a plethora of foods, ranging from American summer staples like hot dogs and burgers to Portland staples like vegan meats and kitschy desserts.
And if you’re in the market for your own Big Green Egg grill but don’t have the proper funds to meet it at its storefront price tag, discounted grills will be sold as the event shuts down later in the afternoon at a 25 percent discount.
Foodies, take note: there are two significant changes in store for Taste of Parkrose’s food and drink department. Both changes appeal to the frugal partygoer. “Last year, we had a few different tiers for the taste tickets and wristbands, but we’re going to make that less complicated this year,” says Montanaro. “For $15, somebody can eat all day long, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can also buy an individual ticket for a taste, in addition to a wristband for a full day, so that’s nice if somebody comes by but is not that hungry. They can get that inexpensive taste for $2.”
For the first time ever, there will be a Woodbox Cider tent. Woodbox Cider is a local cider company with a selection of drinks that feature prominently in the beverage sections at Portland grocery staples such as New Seasons and Market of Choice.
Adult entertainment doesn’t stop at food and drink. The entertainment lineup includes several local bands. The 2018 roster includes, but is not limited to, the groups Ojos Feos, JoyTribe, Chasing Ebenezer, Sloe Gin Fizz and Michael Adams.
Still not convinced you should make an appearance?
“It’s the premiere community celebration for the Parkrose neighborhood,” adds Mapps. “It’s a special place if you haven’t been to Rossi Farms before. If you have been there, you love it. This is an opportunity to meet your neighbors and discover new businesses and celebrate our neighborhood.”
If you’re looking to sign up to participate in the Fun Run, volunteer at the event or be a Taste of Parkrose vendor, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Historic Parkrose office at 503-964-7807.
Also, visit HP’s official website historicparkrose.com, in addition to their Facebook page, facebook.com/HistoricParkrose, for additional last-minute details about the Taste of Parkrose’s fifth go-round.