Admission to Waterfront Blues Fest no longer free

A limited number of passes will be available for Oregon Trail Card holders

The crowd cheers for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on the final day of the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival, July 5, 2015. (KOIN)
The crowd cheers for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on the final day of the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival, July 5, 2015. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Change is coming to the 2016 Waterfront Blues Festival: Instead of pitching in a donation, attendees will now have to pay to get in.

The festival has been free, with volunteers accepting donations at the entrance, since it began in 1988. This year admission will cost $10.

“It was a hard decision to make,” Tara Taylor with the Oregon Food Bank said. “The reason that we are charging is because we want to be able to serve our clients.”

The fees will help the nonprofit feed 270,000 Oregonians every week.

Sally Showman interviews a festivalgoer at the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival, July 2, 2015. (KOIN)
Sally Showman interviews a festivalgoer at the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival, July 2, 2015. (KOIN)

“The demand for our services has not diminished,” Taylor said. “If you look around Portland, the cost of rents are going up, the cost of living is going up so people find themselves squeezed.”

Because tickets are now required for entry, the type of permit needed to use Tom McCall Waterfront Park for the event is different. Last year’s Rate 3 permit was $47,000. This year’s Rate 5 permit will cost the Oregon Food Bank $124,000.

Of the 80,000 people who attended the festival last year, 40% didn’t make a donation.

Taylor hopes the change doesn’t affect attendance this year.

“How the Blues Fest performs really sets the stage for how we’re going to do financially through the rest of the year,” she explained.

This year’s Waterfront Blues Festival runs July 1-4.

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