It’s the mighty fine number NINE! That’s a lot of fairs, but you better believe it, this year’s Portland Art and Heritage Fair just might have been the best one yet. New exhibits, arts workshops, a record number of vendors, and more, there was no way not to be engaged. We had attendees of all kinds coming and going for the fair’s full duration, and if you weren’t one, read on to see what ya missed (and get excited for next year)!
2022: Critters of the Ohio
The day started cold, but those in attendance for this year’s Portland Almost 5K were ready. Bundled in hoodies and beanies, fall had surely arrived, but by the time the race started the sun had shown itself and not a cloud was in the sky. Under this beautiful, unending blue runners made their way through Lannan Park and onto Shippingport island. One entrant upon finishing the race was heard saying “Now then, let’s have an art and heritage fair,” and had one we did.
While Portland Museum’s backyard and inside were buzzing with the moving legs, full arms, and hurried breathing of setup, out front was pure serenity. The Kentucky Yoga Initiative lead a class for all the neighborhood to see and participate in. The noise of cars bolting down Portland Avenue was magically silenced by the calming ambiance and instruction of yoga.
Waiting inside with baited breath was 25 Years of Squallis Puppeteers, the Museum’s new full-scale exhibit. This was a first for the Art and Heritage Fair, and the combined teams of Portland Museum and Squallis Puppeteers put in many a late night to make it special. Walls upon walls covered with puppets greeted fair attendees, and there they remain for future visitors too. The amount of love felt for Squallis throughout the fair was nothing less than heartwarming (and deserved!), and the exhibit was just the beginning of their involvement.
Scratching wax the entire day was Squallis’s Hippie Johnny, who alongside providing music made announcements and unleashed puppets into the crowd. A few musical guests even made appearances to pay Hippie Johnny their respects.
Making the grandest entrance of these guests though was the mighty Abby Yo-Yo, who’s yarn was spun with the help of violin from our friends at the Louisville Academy of Music. Alongside working with Abby Yo-Yo, the Academy hosted an instrumental petting zoo, allowing visitors to go hands-on with creating music. Wonderful licks and solos could be heard emanating from their tent throughout the day.
While giant puppets roamed the lawn, new miniature puppets were emerging at Squallis’s finger-puppet making workshop! Nora Christensen and a team of volunteers helped bring the imaginations of visiting kids to life through these tiny friends.
Doing much the same in the two-dimensional realm was Printed, who brought about the return of their AHOY zinemaking workshop! Kids were able to hop from puppetry to zines with just a few steps, creating an indescribable explosion of creativity. Printed also debuted a new zine with a customizable cover, which was included free with every purchase of their new shirt designed in collaboration with Portland Museum!
Printed likewise announced the winners of this year’s juried art show with an impromptu exhibit! Cycling through three different screens was every amazing entrant to the competition, with these three coming out on top:
1st Prize: Roy Taylor, for his stop-motion short film a tale of crows
2nd Prize: Daniel Vance, for his marker illustration Cranes Landing
3rd Prize: Sabra L. Crockett, for her 2022 entries into her Aviary Series
For more information and honorable mentions, view the full results here on the Printed Journal.
Another exhibit debuted was Roots on the River: The Black Presence in Portland as part of the Filson Historical Society’s Community History Fellows Program. Our fellow? The beloved Ed “Nardie” White, of course! In attendance were many of White’s old friends who experienced and built Portland’s Black history themselves. It was an honor to host Nardie and his peers, who gave a curatorial talk regarding the exhibit which can be viewed here.
Another component of the Roots on the River will be oral histories. Unveiled alongside White’s curatorial talk was progress made toward his oral history room within the Portland Museum, which soon will be up and recording the stories of Portland’s most storied residents for our archive and public consumption. Stay tuned!
Venturing back outside, Portland Museum’s backyard was filled with community vendors sharing art, clothes, jewelry, information, massages, and more! Newcomer Crypt Print even designed exclusive Art and Heritage Fair tote bags! Favorites such as the Tip It Forward mobile wellness bus, Shippingport Brewing, and more well represented the Portland spirit and served its community. Find the full list of vendors here.
Now, what’s a fair without food? Filling the stomachs of attendees were PISTO Mexican Street Food Tacos, and Sugar, an upcoming bakery by longtime Portland Museum board member Maria Mcgary. Mcgary, who is retiring off the board this year, was honored at the fair for her invaluable contributions to Portland Museum. We can’t wait to start our days with her delicious treats once Sugar opens its doors on Portland Avenue.
Gracing Portland Avenue on fair day though was a squad of local Portland firefighters! If you didn’t see them thread the needle across the street backing the truck into our driveway, you missed out. That was far from the only impressive thing they did though, as they hung around all day interacting with kids and maintaining an active, positive presence.
The most important aspect of the Art and Heritage Fair though was you: the visitor. We at Portland Museum, and every organization and individual who collaborated with us for this event, can’t even express the amount we appreciate those who came and made this year’s fair feel just right. As the kids say, the vibes were good, and its all thanks to our kind, awesome, unique, community.
And while this Art and Heritage Fair may be over, this is just the beginning of 25 Years of Squallis Puppeteers! Keep it locked here and on our social media channels for upcoming events, performances, and more with Squallis Puppeteers, including their Cocktail Party Celebration on November 19th. And the exhibit still proudly stands! Come by during any of our open hours to see it for yourself, and grab an exclusive print by Shannon Delahanty pressed during the fair while they last.
Before we go, we’d also like to thank our board, who’s support and volunteer efforts ensured this fair’s greatness. We’re lucky to have them!
See you all next year!