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Waterfront Blues Festival to return to Portland's Tom McCall Park this summer

Tickets for the festival over Fourth of July weekend will go on sale in March.
Credit: Waterfront Blues Festival

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Waterfront Blues Festival is returning to Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland this Fourth of July after two years of COVID disruptions.

The annual festival was canceled for the first time since 1988 in 2020, and returned last year in a scaled down fashion with blues artists performing at The Lot at Zidell Yards to a socially distanced crowd.

The 2022 festival held from July 1-4 will be similar to the pre-pandemic format with "four stages, taking over 8 acres of the park with plenty of room to roam and enjoy the music," organizers said on their website. As of now, they're also planning on a fireworks show. 

"Fans have stood by us while we’ve creatively adapted to the pandemic over the last two years,” says Waterfront Blues Festival Director Christina Fuller. “We‘re excited to return to Tom McCall Waterfront Park this summer, stronger than ever.” 

The artist line up will be announced in March and tickets are expected to go on sale then. Organizers also said they will continue to monitor COVID-19 updates and will have more information on their health and safety protocols for the festival in March. 

Other iconic Portland events have also announced their big return this year, including most recently the Oregon Brewers Festival and the Rose Festival.

Mark Ross with Portland Parks & Recreation said the department is getting requests for other event permits too, but the pandemic makes it difficult to solidify a calendar.

"I can tell you right now that nine major events have received permits they've applied for Waterfront Park," he said.

The events that have received permits are:

  • Shamrock Run 
  • Rose Festival (including Dragon Boat Races)
  • Oregon Humane Society's Doggie Dash
  • LGBTQ Pride Festival  
  • Waterfront Blues Festival 
  • The Big Float
  • Oregon Brewers Festival 
  • DragonSports Dragon Boat Races in September
  • Portland Marathon  

"Those are beloved things that have had to be tabled the last couple of years," said Ross. "We're really hopeful that public health conditions will allow us to bring them this summer, but we're in the preliminary stages and we're not quite sure how things are going to look yet."

KGW reporter Christelle Koumoué contributed to this report.