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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Street Vendors Seek Alternative to Last Thursday

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Tue, Jul 10, 2012 at 2:14 PM

Portland's biggest "alternative" event is about to get its own alternative. Street vendors who hawk their goods at the massive monthly Last Thursday festival on NE Alberta are setting up their own, separate event: HUMPDAY.

Hippies: Headed to SE Industrial.
  • Hippies: Headed to SE Industrial.

The fully-permitted street art event is slated to take place every second Wednesday (starting August 8th) on the block of SE 9th Avenue between Belmont and Taylor.

Portlander Michael O'Connor had been working as a representative of art vendors during the process to bring some order to Last Thursday. The city has been spending $10,000 a month during the summer to shut down the street for the overwhelming arts event while numerous people have proposed different fixes for the festival (moment to reflect on Mayor Sam Adam's baller response to opposition to him making change: "I. Just. Did."). But O'Connor felt keeping the event profitable for the small fry craft vendors was a lost cause. "I came to the conclusion that if I want to provide solutions for this, I needed to look outside the neighborhood and start a whole new event," says O'Connor. "Twenty to thirty thousand people is just too many people. The first-come, first-serve free-for-all has created issues and the artists have been making less and less money. The people who make the most money at that event are food vendors."

O'Connor and a group of vendors are starting up Humpday to feel more like old-school Last Thursday in SE Industrial. However, unlike Last Thursday, vendors will be asked to pay for their spaces (starting at $20) and O'Connor is hoping to raise donations from nearby businesses like Green Dragon. The cost of putting together the event, including paying for permits and port-a-potties, is about $1,500, says O'Connor.

Will Humpday save Last Thursday? Will SE Industrial become the new Alberta? Will this event even get off the group or will it slip, like a drunk stilt-walker, into the abyss of good ideas?

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