Portland Area Theatre Alliance Fertile Ground Portland Oregon

Everything’s coming up roses (again)

Ready or not, here it comes. After two years in the Covid desert, Portland's Rose Festival roars back. Let the Bacchanalia begin.

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Turtle, 2015


Photographs by K.B. DIXON


Stop, children, what’s that sound? Could it be? … It is!

After two years of virtual events during coronavirus shutdowns, the grand Bacchanalia that is the Portland Rose Festival is back in action and raring to go. Seventy-six trombones, three big parades, Royal Rosarians and high school royal courts, carnival rides and games of chance, civic boosterism and cotton candy and horses and riders dressed to the nines, music blaring on the waterfront, maybe even sailors, in port for the festivities, prowling the streets – a grand gaudy mashup of small-town celebration done up in sprawling big-city style. (And of course, rain: Longtime Portlanders often declare that the first day of summer is the day after the Grand Floral Parade.)

Sponsor

Portland Columbia Symphony Realm of Nature Beaverton and Gresham Oregon

This year’s Rose Festival – the 115th, which goes back a good long way – kicked off Friday with fireworks and the opening along the downtown waterfront of the temporary carnival that’s called CityFair, and over the years has gone under various names (“Fun Center” was fun). It runs through June 12, the day after the big parade (known officially as the Spirit Mountain Casino Grand Floral Parade), which this year, contrary to long tradition, won’t wind its way through the city’s downtown center but will remain on the close-in East Side.

Over the years Portland photographer K.B. Dixon has wandered the streets during a lot of Rose Festivals, gathering images of the sometimes endearing, sometimes outlandish, sometimes eye-popping people and events of this annual late spring outburst of civic exuberance. He’s sharing a baker’s dozen of those images from past years to help readers shake off the coronavirus cobwebs and get in the exuberant mood.

Hit the streets, and the carnival, and the rose gardens and beer gardens and parade sidewalks if you will. If you do, take precautions – and your mask. Covid infection rates are rising yet again, and big crowds can spread more than good cheer. Let the drums beat and the trumpets blare, but remember: The pandemic isn’t over. We’re not out of these woods yet.

– Bob Hicks

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Riding in the Parade, 2011

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Sponsor

Portland Columbia Symphony Realm of Nature Beaverton and Gresham Oregon

Band, 2011

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Leopard, 2016

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Flag, 2016

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Regence, 2016

Sponsor

Portland Columbia Symphony Realm of Nature Beaverton and Gresham Oregon

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Golf Clubs, 2017

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Gnome, 2019

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Swinger, 2015

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Sponsor

Portland Area Theatre Alliance Fertile Ground Portland Oregon

Balloon Water Race Game, 2015

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Water Gun Fun, 2017

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Bob’s Space Racers, 2013

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Robby, 2015

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Photo Joe Cantrell

K.B. Dixon’s work has appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, and journals. His most recent collection of stories, Artifacts: Irregular Stories (Small, Medium, and Large), was published in Summer 2022. The recipient of an OAC Individual Artist Fellowship Award, he is the winner of both the Next Generation Indie Book Award and the Eric Hoffer Book Award. He is the author of seven novels: The Sum of His SyndromesAndrew (A to Z)A Painter’s LifeThe Ingram InterviewThe Photo AlbumNovel Ideas, and Notes as well as the essay collection Too True, Essays on Photography, and the short story collection, My Desk and I. Examples of his photographic work may be found in private collections, juried exhibitions, online galleries, and at K.B. Dixon Images.

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