Fertile Ground and My Favorite February Festivals

Festivals abound in our wonderful City of Roses, and some stand out above the crowd. Remember when I declared the PICA Time Based Art my favorite event(s) of the year?  Well, duh. It is still definitely amazing. Thing is,  I just didn’t really know how very much was out there!! So, based on a new season and new discoveries, I do believe I’m going to have to declare some new favorites. Fertile Ground Festival just wrapped up their 4th anniversary show, and folks? We have a winner.

Fertile Ground Festival

Launched in 2009 by the Portland Area Theatre Alliance, Fertile Ground provides a platform for Portland theatre companies to showcase the newest of new works.  Regional and national artists, artistic leaders and arts aficionados alike are invited to discover Portland as “fertile ground” for creativity, innovation, and daring acts of performance. However, unlike a typical fringe festival, FG features fantastic new work from LOCAL artists only, so all the benefits (financial, artistic, and otherwise) of this fine festival stay within the bounds of Stumptown. Pretty cool, right? Right.

While I was overwhelmed by the show of talent throughout the festival, a couple of my favorite performances included International Falls at the COHO, and The Huntsmen at the Portland Play House In the past, while I have often pondered the meaning of the performance at length, I’ve never really been inclined to stay in the theatre for the “after-shows.”   Following International Falls, however, I decided to stay for the post-show discussions with the cast. The audience was able to express their own sentiments and ask questions of the actors, and all I can say is–wow! I might have to make this a standard for my theatre nights! If you get ever the chance to stay on after a performance, I’d highly recommend it. The amazing conversation and learning that goes on is an enriching sort of thrill. To those who shared, bravo for being so open and honest with us!

Now that Fertile Ground is over, though, what’s a festival-lover to do? Well, like I said, festivals abound in this city. To help you out, I’ve made a handy-dandy list of what’s happening this month (February) in Portland. Did I miss an event? Leave it in the comments! I’m sure there’s even more out there, and I’d love to hear about it!

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Portland Jazz Festival, February 15-24 – Past acts have included Regina Carter and hometown sensation Esperanza Spalding, putting this jazz fest at the top of the game.  Performances in venues throughout the city, some free.

Wurstfest in Mount Angel, February 15 -16 – Did you miss Octoberfest?  Wurstfest serves another round of German sausage, family fun, and first-rate German beer.

Zwickelmania, February 16 – A one day event to hang with and learn from Oregon’s brewer.

Chinese New Year, February 10 – 25.  Fifteen days to find a way to celebrate the incoming Year of the Snake.   Last year I spent several afternoons in the fabulous Lan Su Garden in Old Town. But don’t stop there!  We have even more going on at the Convention Center on February 9th.

Great Balls of Fire Fundraiser, February 10 – 28.  Ever promise yourself you’ll return to Salvador Molly’s for the King of Heat contest?   Here it is!  They’ve raised over $45,000 for Oregon HEAT, a non-profit helping low-income Oregonians pay their utility bills in the past 16 events.

Portland International Film Festival, February 7-23.  The largest film fest in Oregon, it premieres over 100 international films. 

And if you’re so inclined, I would love it if you shared your favorite festival experiences with me on my facebook page or in the comments below! Happy Fest-hopping!

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