Pamplin Media Group – Portland Rose Festival notes: Vroom! Motor racing returns to the PIR

NASCAR’s Xfinity Series will make its debut at Portland International Raceway, June 3-4.

• The new Pacific Office Automation 147, a NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Portland International Raceway on June 3-4, is part of the Portland Rose Festival’s return from its pandemic hiatus.

The last time NASCAR stopped in the Pacific Northwest was in 2000 at PIR and Monroe, Washington.

“There is a long tradition of motor racing in Portland, from the early 1900s when cars raced on dirt roads, to the establishment of Portland International Raceway and the Rose Cup Races,” said Jeff Curtis, CEO of the Rose Festival. “We are thrilled and proud to support the NASCAR Xfinity Series Pacific Office Automation 147 race as the flagship event of the Rose Festival ‘Rose City Reunion.'”

The Fête de la Rose will be part of the pre-race ceremonies on Saturday June 4th. Additionally, purchasers of race tickets will receive courtesy entry to the Rose Festival CityFair.

“Auto racing has been a long-standing tradition that is part of the Rose Festival,” said Kevin Savoree, co-owner/COO of race promoter Green Savoree Racing Promotions. It refers to the Rose Cup and CART/Champ Car races, which have long been associated with the Rose Festival.

Tickets for the race can be purchased at

• The Rose Festival took a different direction with the Grand Floral Parade, keeping it to the east side and not sending it downtown.

From the Rose Festival:

It’s an all-east celebration for the first time since the Vanport flood of 1948 forced the festival to relocate its signature parade. The Veterans Memorial Coliseum will open its curtains and let the sun shine inside this famous glass palace, while thousands of spectators enjoy the comfort of air-conditioned seats.

The parade will go out and onto Northeast Weidler heading east, before turning south onto Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The parade will then leave its traditional route and head east along Lloyd Boulevard, skirting the northern edge of the Banfield Highway and passing over the new Earl Blumenauer Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge. He will complete the procession near the Lloyd Center, in the Northeast 15th and Multnomah area, returning triumphantly to the Lloyd District for the first time in decades.

Marilyn Clint, chief operating officer of the Rose Festival, said homelessness and social unrest did not factor into the decision not to bring the Grand Floral Parade to the city centre.

“It’s just because we have the Starlight on the west side, and when we look at what we wanted to do with the big flower parade, we don’t have the resources like we used to. So, ‘Let’s do the west side and on the east side,'” she said.

Clint said there will be over 20 floats in the Grand Floral Parade, and it looks like there will be around 20 groups in the Junior Parade, 18 in the Starlight Parade, and 14 or 15 in the Grand Floral Parade – ” numbers consistent with what we had in 2019 and before that.”

• Clint said the Rose Festival is working to invite frontline workers to participate in the Starlight and Grand Floral parades – retailers, nurses, teachers, “the kind of people that spectators want to cheer on. We want to thank them for what’s happened in the last two years.”

• Additionally, Clint wanted to thank all of the Rose Festival supporters, who had to fight to “survive” like most every other business during the pandemic.

“Looking at what we have done financially over the past two years, we would be remiss not to say how grateful we are to the people, sponsors and corporate partners,” she said.

“We also received federal support. The Paycheck Protection Program was extremely important. We got a few federal grants that helped us continue; all the grants we were eligible for, we applied for. There were opportunities, and we took advantage of them.”

PHOTO COURTESY: ROSE FESTIVAL - The final event of the Rose Festival, the Milk Carton Boat Race takes place June 26 at Westmoreland Park.• The final event of the Rose Festival, the Royal Rosarians Milk Carton Boat Race, will take place on June 26 at Westmoreland Park Casting Pond.

• Current Miss Juneteenth, Aceia Spade of Eugene, plans to ride a mini-float during the Grand Floral Parade.

The Rose Festival has endeavored to be associated, through outreach, with many non-festival related events including the Juneteenth 50th Anniversary Celebration and Good in the Hood.

The Rose Festival also incorporated the 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade, which had to be canceled, into the Grand Floral Parade.

• Jeff Curtis, who took over as CEO of the Rose Festival at age 31, will be leaving the organization in October to pursue other career opportunities.

Now 49, he credits Chief Operating Officer Marilyn Clint, among others, for her guidance during his tenure.

This is the 25th Curtis Rose Festival. He started with the organization in sales.

“I feel good in my mandate and in the organization, and the moment was right to take the step,” he said. “It’s good to do something different. I’m going on a journey to find out what it is.”

A native of Spokane, Washington, who attended the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., Curtis began his career working in minor league baseball, then worked in sales for the Seattle Mariners in 1996 and 1997.

“I learned a lot, I learned the power of relationships. They are the most important thing for success, especially since the Rose Festival is an organization of people,” he said. “Coming in at 31, I was very young but confident I could do the job, but I had to learn how to do the job.”

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