Private spots, pods: Waterfront Blues Fest to return


The Portland festival, canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, will look a bit different this year

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — One of Portland’s premier outdoor festivals was canceled like so many other events last summer but it’s making a comeback later this year.

The Waterfront Blues Festival will return for the Fourth of July weekend in 2021 but with some changes. Since the city didn’t issue permits for Waterfront Park due to COVID-19 concerns, the Blues Festival will be held on private property at the Zidell Yards between the Ross Island Bridge and the Tillicum Crossing. Christina Fuller with Fuller Events described the new location as “seven acres right off South Moody [Avenue] along the Willamette River.”

“I think it will be a joyous and triumphant return of the Waterfront Blues Festival this summer and live music in general in Portland,” said Fuller.

This year, there will only be hundreds of fans enjoying each performance instead of thousands. Socially distanced seating will be arranged in pods in lieu of individual passes or general admission. The seating pods will be sanitized between performances.

An artistic rendering of what the 2021 Waterfront Blues Festival will look like, with festival-goers seated in small, socially-distanced “pods.” (Courtesy to KOIN)

“But you and your quarran-team of two people, four people, or six people will buy a pod together and that’s where you’ll enjoy the show from,” Fuller explained.

With limited capacity, this year’s festival will feature four or five live acts doing two shows each day from July 2 through July 5. Fuller said the talent will still be a mix of local and national blues artists. Food and beverages will also be available.

Waterfront Blues Festival – Complete Coverage

Once the stage and Zidell Yards are built out in late April, Fuller said the site will host outdoor events from May through September. She said, “Live music is the key piece to it, bringing back film, theater, providing a safe space for organizations to return to live events.”

This year’s Waterfront Blues Festival will be different from years past but its resurrection will help to usher in some semblance of normalcy after a year unlike any other.

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