A Stumptown weekend

The Oregon Convention Center is the largest convention center in the Pacific Northwest. (Sue Frause)

The Oregon Convention Center is the largest convention center in the Pacific Northwest. (Sue Frause)

Portland is one cool town. As a lifelong Washingtonian, I’ve always considered Seattle my city, whether growing up in the rural community of Arlington or living on Whidbey Island for the past 33 years. But after spending a weekend in Portland, defection is not out of the question. I’m not surprised that a growing number of our South Whidbey “kids” have decided to make Portland their new home town.

The Rose City was hoppin’ on a recent weekend. There was a national BMX/skateboard event at the Rose Quarter; evangelist Luis Palau lured in more than 100,000 people to his two-day CityFest at Riverfront Park; and Festa Italiana was going on in Pioneer Square. Maybe it was the hot summer weather, maybe it’s because Portland is more condensed than Seattle, but the verve and energy of the city was refreshing.

And then there are those food carts, more than a hundred of them in the city, and not just selling hot dogs, hamburgers, and pretzels. While on a foodie walking tour, our guide told us that Seattle was studying Portland’s popular and successful carts de cuisine. Good idea. Metronatural Town could use some help in the snack shack department, as right now it’s pretty bleak.

The highlight of our Stumptown weekend was Live Wire, a live radio show held at the Gerding Theater at the Armory, home to Portland Center Stage. The two-hour monthly show ($15) is described as “variety for the eyes, vaudeville for the ears” and condensed for radio broadcast and podcasts. It’s sort of a Pacific Northwest version of A Prairie Home Companion, minus the corn. Guests included Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, Portland Trailblazer Channing Frye, performance artist Reggie Watts, the Portland Cello Project, The Dandy Warhols and improv troupe Super Project Lab. It was smart, fresh, funny, and enough reason for me to head down to Portland again real soon.

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