THE OLDEST continuous festival west of the Rockies and steeped in tradition, the 2011 Astoria Regatta runs from Wednesday, August 10 through Sunday, August 14. The city’s very first Regatta took place in 1894, consisting of a series of boat races staged to celebrate the end of the fishing season. While the races still play a part in the festival, this annual event has evolved into a five-day extravaganza with music, parades, the selection of the Regatta Queen, fireworks and lots of other activities. Despite its long and distinguished history, however, Regatta’s getting a bit of a face lift in this its 117th year.
People can expect to see some changes to Regatta in 2011. Most of the changes have come out of series of meetings that have been going on since early in the year between the Regatta Association (RA) and the Astoria Downtown Historic District Association (ADHDA), which is a new development. With the Bicentennial and more folks new to the Regatta expected, the two groups have been working hard to get ready—to ensure that things run smoothly and that the Regatta experience will be a safe, enjoyable one.
After doing a little research on his own beforehand Eric Paulson, RA President, saw that attendance at the LEKTRO Grand Parade was pretty lackluster compared with parades he visited in other communities. He says, “I look at things from a marketing and business perspective. If people don’t buy my product I find out why and make corrections.” ADHDA and RA subsequently came up with a two-pronged focus in their discussions: traffic/parking and local business impacts.
To beef up the turnout for the parade—on the part of both residents and out-of-towners—the two groups concluded 1) that it needs to be easier for motorists to get to downtown and park; and 2) once people are downtown, they should be encouraged to stay there… to shop, have a bite to eat and, of course, take part in the Regatta and Bicentennial activities that will be going on all week during Regatta—more of them downtown too.
Business as Usual
Paulson says he wants to “make it ‘business as usual’ downtown” during Regatta with people able to shop, eat, and otherwise enjoy the city’s core area. In the past, merchants have complained that the Saturday during Regatta weekend is often one of their worst shopping days. So this year, several downtown businesses will offer discounts to customers who’re wearing a new commemorative Regatta pin that costs $10 and is for sale at local businesses and banks. At participating merchants, “pinned” customers may also register for a drawing to win a 43” Samsung Flat Screen TV… as many times as the number of places they visit. To add to festivities, businesses will decorate their windows and compete for “best window display.” There’ll be judges and a plaque awarded.
There won’t be a Regatta Square this year. Instead, the whole downtown, with its businesses, restaurants and other attractions, will provide the services that the Square’s special vendors (brought in for the occasion) used to. Some, if not all, of these now displaced vendors will be at various locations around town on Saturday, August 13 instead. The $10 it used to cost to get into the Square now buys the commemorative Regatta pin, with its extra value of discounts and the drawing attached. The proceeds from pin sales also support the Regatta Association activities.
More for Families and Teens
Before the parade starts at noon, family fun may be had at both ends of downtown this year, courtesy of Astoria Parks and Recreation and the Clatsop County Historical Society. At Astoria’s west end, there’ll be a Regatta Swim (ages 4-12) and a “Bouncing House” (an outdoor inflatable gym/climbing wall) on the grassy area next to the building at the Aquatic Center, all starting at 10:00 am. At the city’s east end, the action will be at the Flavel House where, starting at 10:00 am, there’ll be lawn games, dog agility competitions and jail/film museum tours.
Your teenagers might get a kick out of the skateboard tournament at Tapiola Skate Park at 2:00 pm, after the parade. Then at 6:00 pm, they can “Rock-n-Bowl” at Astoria’s Lower Columbia Bowl, which will be offering “Cosmic Bowl” later in the evening, at 9:00 pm. The cost for each session is $9.00, which pays for bowling and shoe rental.
Fleet Beat or Sailors’ Delight
Populists won’t want to miss the “party for the people” that’s new to Regatta this year—an unabashed alternative to the Mayor’s Ball. So beat feet over to the Astoria Event Center at 894 Commercial Street in Astoria, for the “Fleet Beat Bicentennial Celebration” from 7:00 pm to 1:00 am. This Bicentennial bash—described as a dance and public social—is open to the public and formal dress is NOT required. What’s more it’s “kid friendly” until 9:00 pm.
You can dance the night away to the music of some of your favorite KMUN programmers who’ll be doing their shows live! There’s a great line up that covers many genres of music. Times, programs and programmers are as follows:
7:00 pm In The Mood with Wayne D.
8:00 pm Cocktail Nation with Nacho Bizznez
9:00 pm Late Night Radio with Rev. Tim
10:00 pm Short Attn Span Radio with Slab Slabinsky
11:00 pm Caribbean Moon with Jeremy Hirsch
12:00 am Eclectic Boogaloo with Amy Willis
This event will also “Broadcast Live” from the Event Center on KMUN from 8 to 10pm. Event sponsors include KMUN, the RA and ADHDA, Nacho Bizznez and Go Events. It’s also a fund raiser for the Regatta Assn. and KMUN. Share news of this event with your friends and neighbors and be ready to have a blast. Cost: $10 or get in FREE by wearing your Regatta pin.
Regatta Parade Re-Route
One of the most controversial changes in Regatta this year is the re-routing of the 2011 LEKTRO Grand Land parade. It’s moving one block south from the highway (aka Commercial Street in downtown parlance) and will proceed along Duane and Exchange Streets. Why the change? In a word… traffic.
ADHDA and Regatta folks didn’t take this decision to change the route lightly. They talked to the Astoria Police Department and even sent out a short, five-question survey questionnaire using an ADHDA e-mail list. According to Tiffany Estes, respondents were split pretty much down the middle—about half thought the decision was a “travesty;” while the other half bought into the idea as long as it improved safety and could help their business.
At one time, Estes helped organize the City of Hillsboro’s Fourth of July parades. She says, “I saw first hand what a nightmare a parade can be. A lot of things are happening (then) that you have to watch closely.” Turning corners and disbanding are particularly problematic that way. Following the old route, the Regatta parade goes down Commercial Street, turns and heads back down Marine Drive to past the Aquatic Center. At 16th Street, these two streets merge so floats, cars, horses and excited kids get backed up and much too close to one another for safety.
The rerouting of the parade will allow traffic from Hwy. 30 to move through town or, more importantly, to get into town and park in order to enjoy the festivities. Says Paulson, “We do all this work to get people to come, and then they can’t get here. It keeps people from out of town and even from areas close by like Alderbrook, Knappa and Swensen away.”
With the old route, if motorists survived the ordeal of getting into town they still couldn’t find a place to park. Astoria’s only got one main street, and parking is prohibited from 8:00 a.m. until after 2:00 p.m. on the day of the parade on both sides of Commercial and on one side of MarineThere was no parking on Duane that day either, so the only place left for many motorists to park was up the hill. The new parade route frees up the street parking on both Commercial and Marine Drive. Too, by parking there people will be in a better position to avail themselves of downtown services.
This way the Parade!
So remember… when you come down to see the parade during Regatta, find your spot on Duane or Exchange, between Seventh and 17th. The parade will start in front of the hospital on 17th and Exchange and travel west on Exchange St. to Seventh St. It will then take a right on 7th, and proceed to Duane St. It’ll then turn right on Duane and end at 17th St. with disbanding occurring near the John Warren Field.
Astoria’s Bicentennial Celebration Concert Starring Reba McEntire
August 14th, 2011
KUPL is proud to be a part of Astoria’s Bicentennial Celebration Concert Starring Reba McEntire with special guest Phil Vassar! Join us at Camp Rilea (Hwy 101) in Warrenton, Oregon. The show starts at 1 pm and is open to all ages.
Price level 1 – $200 * Reserved seating within the first 9 rows in front of stage.
Price level 2 – $150 * Reserved seating within rows 10 thru 18.
Price level 3 – $50 * General Admission Lawn seating. Low profile chair or lawn chair, blanket and umbrellas are allowed.
*No pets, coolers, food, backpacks allowed. Camp Rilea is a military base; patrons may be subject to the same “search and/or seizure” rules that apply on any military base.
Purchase your tickets at any TicketsWest location or Online.
The appearance by country superstar Reba McEntire at Camp Rilea over the weekend breaks very new ground for the Regatta. According to Paulson, Regatta organizers wanted something “really special” for this year’s event and the city’s Bicentennial. They felt they needed a bona fide “headliner” and Reba McEntire certainly fills the bill in that regard.
Says Paulson, “This is something everyone can attend. While $52 for a ticket isn’t inexpensive, it’s comparable to what people from this area would spend driving to Portland for a concert.” In doing that, they’d more than likely have gas, lodging, meals and ticket costs to contend with.
Reba McEntire and guest opener Phil Vassar take the stage at 1pm, on Sunday, August 14, Camp Rilea. For ticket info: