PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A staple of Portland’s summer returns to the River Front for its 115th year, the Rose Festival is set with a lineup of activities over the next three weeks.

The last two years, the festival had been shut down because of the pandemic.

The Rose City’s namesake festival marks an unofficial start to summer festivals.

“This festival means a ton to the City. It’s community pride. First and foremost, a chance to get together, that’s why it’s the Rose City Reunion,” said Jeff Curtis, the CEO of the Rose Festival.

The Rose Festival was the first of major festival in Portland back in 1907. It’s grown since, taking up a three-week calendar with events like races, a carnival, and parades.

“A successful Rose Festival is defined by: Is it safe? Are people coming down? Are they having a good time? We feel very good about that. We also feel an expectation that we want to do our very best to ensure the safest possible event,” Curtis said.

Curtis says safety has always been a priority for the Rose Festival but they are taking steps to ensure the security of people attending, after two years of rising crime around Portland.

Curtis says, they are shortening the hours of the City Fair from midnight to 9 p.m. (except for the Firework Show on May 27, which will be at 9:50 p.m. with a 11 p.m. close time), they’ve created a safety plan, planned for different scenarios, and coordinated with city agencies like PPB.

“We all want the Rose Festival to be successful, we being the entire city and leadership from City Council, down to the Portland Police Bureau and the officers on the Front Lines,” Curtis said.

Curtis also believes in the power of numbers.

“The bottom line is we really want to create an atmosphere coming down to celebrate and when there’s a lot of good people down here, it’s just contagious and we feel really good about the city’s efforts and our own efforts to welcome the Rose Festival back,” Curtis explained.

The festival will also welcome back money for businesses downtown and near the event.

The two years not only shut down the festival but shut down businesses in various ways from pandemic shutdowns and a lack of foot traffic making it financially untenable for some owners to keep their doors open.

“The businesses in Downtown Portland have struggled, I don’t want to say the most, but they have struggled significantly,” Sommer Martin, the marketing director for the Portland Business Alliance said.

“After all the things we’ve gone through, whether it was the COVID pandemic, also the protesting, and just all the things that were going on it just feels really good to have a lot of these old, traditional things coming back to downtown,” Martin continued.

Curtis points to a $50 million economic impact on hotels, restaurants, and other businesses in the downtown area from the three-week event. Martin and Curtis both see a benefit from people coming to the festival who may not be typical downtown customers, whether that be tourists or people living outside of the City Center.

Curtis also says they are looking for volunteers to help the Festival over the next three weeks.