About Slabtown Festival
Over the past four years, support of the Slabtown Community Festival has been tremendous. The neighborhood came together, participating as volunteers, merchants and festival-goers.
We are confident that businesses within the community will again get involved en masse, and at a level that fits their particular situation. Opportunities are greater than ever to participate in and profit from the vastly increased crowds that are anticipated to attend (see attachments). Be a Slabtown sponsor and host a booth. Make an in-kind donation or volunteer your employees to help out at the festival. We need your creativity and support!
So what the heck is “Slabtown”, anyway?
Slabtown gets its name from the enormous quantities of slab wood—the rounded, exterior parts of a log cut away to square off lumber–that were produced as a popular form of heating fuel in the early 1900s by lumber mills of the neighborhood. Slabtown has been a cohesive residential community, distinguished by a mixed ethnic component, since the 1850s. It encompasses the area roughly from NW 16th Avenue to Montgomery Park and from the Willamette River to NW Pettygrove. Landmarks of old Slabtown include the site of the 1905 World’s Fair, St. Patrick’s Church, the ESCO steel foundry, Chapman School, and the Vaughn Street Baseball Park, home of Portland’s Pacific Coast League club, the Beavers until 1955. Roots of the Festival Friends and fellow Slabtown history enthusiasts, Mike Ryerson (NW Examiner) and Tim Hills (McMenamins Pubs), organized a gathering in January 2006 for a number of the old, Croatian residents of Slabtown, most of whom shared ties to St. Patrick’s Church and the Vaughn Street Baseball Park. The gathering coincided with the visit of one of Slabtown’s most famous sons, Johnny Pesky, the Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer. The gathering proved to be such a special event that Ryerson and Hills vowed to greatly expand the idea. One result was the organization of public tours led by Ryerson and Hills along the NW 23rd corridor, emphasizing the neighborhood’s rich history. Further inspired by the popularity of the tours, the two men initiated plans for an all-inclusive community celebration of Slabtown’s heritage and present-day vitality.
As the festival has continued to grow, Mike and Tim launched another project to help celebrate and make better known the neighborhood history. Called Slabtown Picture Shows, it is an informal lecture and slide show of the heritage and evolution of NW 23rd Avenue. The program proved quite popular and has been presented several times at the Mission Theater, The Oregon Jewish Museum and the Northwest branch library.