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We WILL Celebrate!

A little tumult can’t kill the buzz
Map provided by Krysta Albert/Festival of Eugene
Map provided by Krysta Albert/Festival of Eugene

This coming weekend will be a time to celebrate Eugene even if some of the names, venues and entertainment are not quite what we have been accustomed to in past decades. But Eugeneans are flexible, right?

Familiar will be the Eugene Celebration Parade and Pet Parade Saturday, Aug. 23, followed by something new, a gathering outside Civic Stadium at the end of the parade for a rally. And Festival of Eugene is still happening as we go to press despite some moments of uncertainty as the new festival came together. Here’s what we know to help you plan your weekend:

The annual Pet Parade will be at 10:30 am Saturday, making a one-block square, starting at 12th and High, heading north to 11th, then along 11th to Pearl, then down Pearl to 12th. Greenhill Humane Society sponsors the Pet Parade and the event draws hundreds of participants and spectators. (Yes, in previous years the Pet Parade was on Sundays.) Expect dogs in tutus and kids pulling wagons with everything from iguanas to chickens. Spectators watch for free, but the entry cost is $5. 

The Eugene Celebration Parade with its political, social and often outrageous entries will begin at 11 am Saturday near South Eugene High School and head north along High Street to 11th where it will take a left and then head south on Pearl to end near the Civic Stadium parking lot. Staging for the parade begins at 8 am and entries will be judged for their entertainment value, creativity, concept and enthusiasm. Categories include Best Viewed, Best Dressed, Best in Step, Best Laughs, Best Listening, Kids are Best, Judges Know Best, Best Elementary/Middle School Entry, Best High School Band and Best of Show. First place winners get cash prizes. Parade watchers get giggles. 

Civic Stadium will get some attention this year as everyone is invited for a rally and entertainment outside the stadium at the end of the parade. Samba Ja and Kudana bands in the parade will lead a procession to Civic for the gathering with “special guests,” more music and refreshments. The rally is in support of efforts to save and restore the historic stadium and keep it from becoming another shopping center and parking lot.

Festival of Eugene was planned in a hurry following the surprise cancellation of the Eugene Celebration two months ago by Kesey Enterprises. Wedding and event planner Krysta Albert had already organized the Health and Wellness Celebration as part of the Eugene Celebration, and decided to expand it to fill the gap and make it free. The nonprofit Festival of Eugene started off downtown on 5th Avenue, but ran into time constraints and other problems. She then attempted to relocate to Alton Baker Park, and it finally landed at Skinner Butte Park, which is along the river and bike path a few blocks north of 5th Street Public Market. Donations and enthusiasm have kept this project alive despite numerous obstacles.

Last we heard, the festival is still on for Skinner Butte Park 4 to 10 pm Friday and 11 am to 10 pm Saturday. There will be local bands and musicians (see “Music Matters”), mixed in with comedy, DJs, poetry readings and other acts. Various for-profit vendors including mustache and face painters are planning booths and nonprofits like Friends of Civic, Cascadia Wildlands, NEDCO and Attachment Parents of Lane County are slated to participate. Albert says she anticipates one winery and two beer tents in a garden in the middle of the festival’s footprint. Find updates at the Festival of Eugene Facebook page and information on booth prices at festivalofeugene.com.  

Finally, a concert at Cuthbert for an unheard-of entry fee of $5 is planned at 5:30 pm Saturday, featuring Hell’s Belles, Zepparella and Foreverland, billed as a “14-piece live tribute to Michael Jackson.” Parade entry winners will be announced between sets at about 6:30 pm. For those who have never seen a show at the Cuthbert, this is an opportunity to experience a world-class venue. Bring a blanket. Beer, wine and food will be available.