New socially distanced waterfront venue at Zidell Yards will host Waterfront Blues Fest, Portland Pride
As an uncertain summer approaches for big festivals around Oregon, a new venue in downtown Portland is stepping in to host a few of the city’s most-popular events.
The Lot at Zidell Yards, a new socially distanced events venue on Portland’s south waterfront, will host the Waterfront Blues Festival, Portland Pride and other events this spring and summer, it announced Tuesday.
With social gathering restrictions still in place, the venue said it would initially be able to host up to 270 people, isolated into socially distanced seating pods. Attendees will be allowed in and out in phases to avoid crowding, and will be required to wear face masks outside of their pods.
Renderings of the venue show pods of two to four lawn chairs gathered on small patches of green turf, each area enclosed on three sides by a white picket fence. The pods all face a stage set up beneath the Ross Island Bridge.
“We are excited to bring live events and entertainment back to Portland and we also recognize the responsibility that comes along with it,” the venue said on its website.
And while it goes on to lay out a detailed list of precautions, everything from touchless ticket scanning to regularly sanitized restrooms, The Lot ultimately acknowledges the fact that “an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present.”
The Waterfront Blues Festival, which takes place July 2-5, is promising 2021 attendees the “same amazing vibe” despite the new location, which is found just a short way up the Willamette River from the traditional festival site at Waterfront Park.
Each day of the festival will include two separately ticketed shows, and the event will also be livestreamed for those who can’t make it in person, organizers said.
People who purchased passes to the 2020 event will not be able to turn them in for the 2021 festival, organizers said, but they will receive a refund and first access to tickets this summer. The blues festival has yet to announce the 2021 lineup, which is expected to come in May, and has not said whether fireworks will be a part of this year’s event.
Portland Pride is set to take place in June, according to The Lot, but organizers have not yet announced any details for the event.
The venue will also host a film and music series presented by Hollywood Theatre in May and June, as well as a music festival in August that promises to highlight a diverse set of local and regional musicians.
Fuller Events, which organizes the Waterfront Blues Festival and Portland Pride, and is managing the venue, said The Lot also aims to host dance, art, fundraisers and more.
“We believe that our city’s musicians, artists, cultural institutions, and creatives not only make up the rich and colorful fabric of Portland, but are also essential components to the economic health of our city,” Christina Fuller, co-owner of Fuller Events, said in a news release. “The Lot will provide opportunities to put our artists and our event production and hospitality professionals back to work, and give our audience the opportunity to celebrate and reconnect.”
It won’t be the first time Zidell Yards has been used for a music festival. In 2014, the former shipyard hosted Project Pabst, a buzzy PBR-sponsored festival headlined by Modest Mouse and Tears for Fears. It has also hosted food festival Feast and the touring equestrian show Cavalia.
The 33-acre site, located between the Tilikum Crossing and Ross Island Bridge, was once slated for a high-rise development, but was most recently in talks to build a 10,000-seat amphitheater in a partnership with event promoter Live Nation.
That’s a far cry from the small crowds that will initially be allowed in this summer. While the venue will be capped to 270 at the start, The Lot said it hoped to expand capacity this summer, assuming pandemic restrictions relax as more Oregonians receive vaccinations.