#14 Portland Rose Festival

image001.jpgPortland prides itself on being the City of Roses. Upon observing the several massive, rose filled gardens within our city’s limits, it’s a claim not too difficult to buy into. It is “THE City of Roses”. Fine. Got it. However, something that should not be bought into under any circumstances is the city’s annual flora-inspired festival-o-suck, the Portland Rose Festival (the week and half each year when Portlanders find other things to do while Gresham and Hillsboro* invade the city proper). While there are dozens of actual events associated with the festival, these three are particularly suck-worthy.

1. The Portland Rose Festival Court. This is a tradition wherein area female high school seniors are sent into a poufy sequin dress/hairspray induced tizzy. In front of each school’s general population, a single Princess is plucked, eventually comprising an entire Rose Festival Court. One of those tizzied out Princess’s will then be named (crown, sash & all) Queen of Rose Festival. Wait, WHAT?! For the progressive town that Portland claims to be, this sounds like a ritual that should have been retired in 1956, left in apt hands of the “Don’t Mess with Texas” crowd, or turned over to Tyra Banks for her next venture into reality television (“12 of you will compete to be The Next Top Festival Queen”).

2. The Portland Rose Festival Parade. Here’s the gist for those who haven’t had the pleasure: floats, flowers, families from suburbia, over-priced crap, horse crap, people who pick up the horse crap, people who annoy you, and usually rain. The parade jams up traffic on both sides of the river all Sunday morning. God forbid you manage to emerge from your hangover early enough to seek a greasy breakfast/bloody mary on that forsaken Sunday, and are held up because of a parade-related traffic blockage.

Creepy3. Finally, the last bit warranting caution: the Portland Rose Festival Waterfront Village. Don’t let the name fool you. “Fun” it is not. Bring back the Gresham/Hillsboro crowd, throw in some shoddy carnival rides, carnies (naturally) and overpriced corn dogs. Now, spread them over the length of Waterfront Park, where they are to remain for the entire week and half, trampling all of the grass which tax-paying Portland residents then pay to re-seed. Seriously, who approves that budget expenditure?

Now if all that sounds about as awesome as a kick in the head, you’ll be well served to crawl into a dark hole in late May until about a week or so into June. Be forewarned though – when you re-emerge, what you smell won’t be roses. It’ll be hairspray, horse crap and corn dogs.

*People in Portland generally think that Gresham and Hillsboro suck

18 thoughts on “#14 Portland Rose Festival

  1. I grew up in Portland, and always have pined for it after we left. Listening to all the viperative comments above, I don’t know that I want to come back. What in the world has made so many so bitter. It is a week and half and then it’s all over. Get over yourselves. To others, you may look flea ridden. Good grief, I just can’t understand the hate spewing so freely. Maybe if these people who love to hate would pratice being more kind and loving, they might find that others are not so bad. What makes you so wonderful, just because of your address? My heart hurts, thinking this is the attitude in Portland now. My memory has always been a live and let live environment, with beautiful surroundings. I guess maybe I had better take a second look before I come “home”.

  2. live downtown and every year I have to wade through the unwashed, flea-ridden crowd of vermin as they ooze in from one of our local suburban sprawl franchise-ghettos.

    I live in Northeast – home of the flea-ridden vermin riding fixie bikes without lights or helmet, an either wearing dreadlocks or dirty black t-shirts, black bike caps, and filthy green or khaki cargo shorts.

    I fear no Rose Festival fairgoer – the cycle filth have made me immune to dirt and BO.

  3. no one cares to read essays.. keep it short and sweet.. like this… I don’t care where your from…THE ROSE FESTIVAL SUCKS and is overrated for every reason

  4. I worked for the company that builds parade floats here in Portland so I have first hand experience not only building the floats but working the parade[bringing the floats over to the parade grounds,driving floats,marshalling floats and working on the 3 man crews that drive around during the parade in glorified golf carts,troubleshooting problems. And there are always problems. Anyway,I think the Rose festival has a dark side to it that never really gets talked about.
    Anyone ever wonder what happens to those 15 to 50,000 dollar floats after the parade? What do you do with tons of metal that’s been sprayed with toxic expanding foam then painted and covered with organic material. You destroy them that’s what. No metal yard is going to recycle that toxic crap because it would be very problematic[impossible] to separate the metal from the stuck-on expanded foam.By the way,this foam turns into cyanide gas when burned. Also, the air-born particles that are released when the stuff is sawed up[for disposal in gigantic dumpsters] is horrible. People get sick during the building process and the demolition. Not to mention the rotting organics that turn into a primordial soupy,maggot-ridden mush. Cant feed the homeless but you can waste tons of rice and other edibles to decorate these doomed monstrosities.
    If you take the time to do the math,this is an orgy of wasted money and resources for a tradition that should’ve been laid to rest years ago.
    One of my favorite memories was watching the Rose Festival Court arrive at Studio Concepts in a custom bus with a police escort of 3 to 5 motorcycle cops.
    Aren’t there more important things to spend money on?

    • I performed at the portland rosefestival once- never again- the food sucks, most of the performers suck and the whole vibe is crack ho corn dog- a truely ugly scene. I wouldn’t put it in my bio in a million years. it’s nothin but carny scene and a whole lot of waste. The exact opposite of the clean and green image the city tries to promote.

      Any ideas out there of how to petition to get rid of a festival?

  5. Brandon, if someone lives in Washington and works in Oregon, they still have to pay Oregon’s inoome tax. It is held out of their paychecks. Look it up. And no, I don’t work in Oregon, and that’s why. Washington also has plenty of other taxes for the people who live here also, like no cap on property tax (which is why our schools are better than Oregon’s and are not getting closed down for lack of funding).

  6. Thank you Fairview you read my mind in your comment, I also have lived in Oregon my whole life, although I haven’t lived necessarily IN portland, I live closeby in the suburbs. I don’t particularly care for the noise and bustle of the city but I also don’t like suburbs and plan to get out into the wild/country where I can be a human being without a resistance.

    But I have found too many ‘die-hard’ Portlanders take the stand to put down neighbors and close by residents, well that’s not at all what a Portlander should be, you should be ashamed of yourself. Where’s the open minded, freedom loving, respectful, caring, and friendly Portlander in that? You’re just giving yourself a bad rap. So suck it up and love thy neighbor.

    We are all human beings, brothers and sisters no matter what race or where you reside. We should be way past this territory pride and hubris and begin to accept each other in open ways. Stop clinging to the negativity, you’re only spreading the worst of your potentials.

  7. I think Fairview is a great example of the kinds of people my plan, Bottoms up Gresham!, is directly aimed at.

  8. Very disappointed in those Portlander’s who seem to think they are better than anyone else. You my friend SUCK. I’ve lived in the Portland Metropolitan Area for 23 years now, and in Oregon my entire life. I moved out of Portland to the Gresham, Fairview area to get away from jerks like you. This pissing on anything standing happens everyday in Portland by folks that live there. Granted you have your bad apples in every crowd, every city and every state, and i’m sure just as many flock in from everywhere, including your high rise apartments and concrete jungle.

    The Rose Festival is a tradition and it’s for those who enjoy the celebration, the food, the music, the boats, just the fun of it all. The idea of it is mainly for the children, who need the chance to have the fun and grow up with their own opinion of life, instead of views such as yours.

    Life is too short, enjoy each day for the surprises that exist in it, be joyus and happy. If you seriously just cant stand the festivities, then go on vacation and leave the area. There are alot of great people and family’s that live outside of Portland – they moved to get away from the noise of the city. Think about the amount of money that is made during this festival, take a look at how much the city would loose if the Festival was moved elsewhere. How many of you hate it, but actually participate in it. Before you continue to critisize people you dont know, take a look in the mirror. Go back where you came from, cause it sure isn’t from here.

    Just to be clear, i do believe the cost of the Rose Festival Fair is too high, the rides are not the safest and the crowds crazy. If Portlander’s didn’t approve of booze being served at such events, then their wouldn’t be a drinking problem – What was your vote? The amount of people attending is crazy, and maybe it should be held in a larger more accessable area, maybe out towards Forest Grove in a 100 acre farm field. I’m sure the area farmers who have unused land would love the income they could obtain from it. Communities like that deserve a chance to repent all the political crooks that continue to build high rises, and concrete nightmares, that bring people like you flocking in from god knows where.

    I hope for all who reads this entire article, actually goes to the festival, experience it, keeping in mind there will be crowds, and walks away forming opinions for themselves. Just remember, you only have this life, take a chance and enjoy it. You just might be surprised at what you find when you take your blinders off.

  9. One thing that is kind of upsetting me about this blog….
    the lack of mention of Vancouver.

    If you think people and families from Hillsboro, Beaverton, and Gresham are bad, what about all those A-holes, that work in Portland, clog our rush hour freeways, and enjoy all the benefits of the lack of state income tax, while doing all of their shopping in the bliss that sales-tax free Oregon.

    These people are the devil, and I would gladly accept anyone from Portland suburbs, as long as they are not f*cking washingtonians.

    • I’m so tired of hearing all the hatred for Vancouver from Portlanders! Jesus, what the f**k did we ever do to you? I’m not a red neck, I don’t live in a trailer park, I went to college, I have no kids, I have a job, I don’t fit any of the ugly and baffling stereotypes that Portland is always shoving in my face about being a citizen of Vancouver. You Portlanders are so mean, I hate going into Portland because I know how badly I’ll be treated! I was just there last night for Cinematic Titanic and my husband and I barely escaped the city alive. I just can’t understand why you all hate us so much. My husband and I chose Vancouver over Portland for many reasons, neither of us has ever regretted our decision, but I’m sick to death about hearing how awful Vancouver is and how (insert vicious remark here) the people of Vancouver are!! Leave us alone, don’t bother us and we certainly won’t bother you!

    • Pro Vancouver;

      Don’t listen to these Portlanders. They’re just angry because no one in their right mind would hire their lazy asses. The people of Vancouver always get the good jobs in Portland. So like bratty children who thinks they’re “entitled”, are taking out their anger out on you people of Vancouver.

      • Where did you people come from and why am I getting emails from you? I grew up in Portland and happen to love Oregon, so please do not send any more of these offensive emails. I am sure that Vancouver is a very nice place. What I don’t understand is why people have to put down others. Live and let live. That is for both sides of this issue.

        Thank you.

  10. I grew up going to the Rose Festival as a kid (1990’s). Got free tickets to the waterfront carnival. These rides are not safe. I think the name of the traveling carnival company is Funtastic.

    Two stories:
    Waiting in line for Superloops (Ring of Fire) when a bolt/screw the size of a softball flies above our heads into the grass walkway. The ride with people on it is forty feet in the air, upside down. The operator says “Oh s**t!” and going to retrieve the bolt/screw. But lets the ride continue.

    Second, I was riding the metal swings ride that spins you twenty feet in the air, when an empty metal swing next to me breaks and flies off. The metal chair flew toward the river, hit the sidewalk and crashed into the river barrier/handrail.

    Don’t ride the rides.

  11. I live downtown and every year I have to wade through the unwashed, flea-ridden crowd of vermin as they ooze in from one of our local suburban sprawl franchise-ghettos. They routinely can be found picking a fight, spilling a drink, or harassing the help enforce all around downtown proper.

    At the end of their days festivities they stumble, drunk and hooting, urinating on any upright surface within reach, to pile into their mini-vans for the suicidal/homicidal drive home.

    I love this town and from this deep and angry love, I have come up with a modest proposal: Chemical sterilization through treated PBR at appropriate PDX functions. Think fluoride in drinking water except with more immediate tangible benefits. There would be some collateral damage to be sure, mainly among the hipsters ironic enough to actually go to these festivals but really that could be viewed as a bonus effect.

    Any city officials interested in a detailed whitepaper on the estimated effects of implementing project “Bottoms up Gresham!” are encouraged to contact me personally.

Leave a Reply