Boosters seeks to rebrand and refocus its marquee festival

by: FILE PHOTO - Scappoose Boosters organizers say they plan to rename and refocus the traditional Scappoose Pow Wow festival, which is heading into its fourth consecytive year since restarting in 2011.Scappoose Boosters President Nick Teeter confirmed Monday, Jan. 6, the club will rename its yearly Pow Wow festival within the next two months.

Teeter said the name change will reflect the Boosters’ greater effort to take Pow Wow, now entering its fourth consecutive year as a Scappoose summer festival, in a different direction.

Teeter said the push for the name change came from the Scappoose City Council as well as from members of the community who felt the potential rebranding of the Scappoose High School mascot, the Indians — the likely result of an Oregon Board of Education decision to ban all Native American mascots in the state’s schools by 2017 — should also apply to the Boosters’ event.

Teeter said the name change will be decided within the next two months and the event will likely take a new shape as well.

“There will be a name change. We don’t know what. It has not been decided yet,” Teeter said. “We support the high school, that’s what we do. There would be no real tie if the high school should change their name to anything else.”

Aside from the name change, the festival will be held in early June rather than July and will run for only Friday and Saturday, dropping Sunday from the event schedule.

“There may be a small venue on Thursday night,” Teeter said. “We also hope to get the carnival back in.”

Also changing is the festival’s major planners and coordinators. Michael Klobes, who orchestrated a return of the festival in 2011, has stepped down as its director.

“Renee Pizzo, Dianna Holmes and Janet Williams will be heading the event this year,” Teeter said. “Michael has been doing a really good job getting this off the ground the past three years.”

Teeter said that, while there hasn’t been any local criticism about the festival being named after a traditional Native American ceremonial event, he has received online comments expressing concern.

“The Internet had quite a bit to say about it. We received several emails from Native Americans or people who claimed to be Native Americans — you know how the Internet is — voicing displeasure with us calling it a Pow Wow,” he said.

The Boosters added an element of Native American culture to the 2013 Pow Wow for the first time since its resurrection in 2011. Teeter said the mini-powwow — put on by the Native American Rehabilitation Association, which is located on Highway 30 near Cornelius Pass Road — drew about 250 people. He added that the event had “a fairly significant community interest.”

Still, Teeter said the attendance at last year’s festival was down from previous years, especially on Sunday — the day the mini-powwow was held. Teeter said he wasn’t sure if attendance at the mini-powwow was low due to the fact that no alcohol was offered at the request of NARA, which has a strong focus on sobriety, or if it was due to other reasons.

“I know that Sunday was the smallest day as far as attendance,” he said. “I don’t know if that was the Native American powwow or other drivers. Also, Sunday is a wind-down day.”

The Pow Wow was also held at the same time as Rainier Days in the Park last year, which Teeter felt drew people away from the Pow Wow.

Teeter said the festival has “morphed” a lot since it began in the 1960s.

“The last one ended in 1984 and it had been dormant until we brought it back to life three years ago,” he said. “Since the comeback, it has fared pretty well. Last year, out of the three, was probably the most disappointing.”

One of the major changes since the festival’s resurrection, Teeter said, was a focus on families that the Boosters had previously neglected. “Some of the feedback has been very, very positive,” he said. “We try and make the event where it can involve the family. At previous Pow Wows, they had a fence up and it was basically one massive beer garden. There wasn’t a whole lot for kids to do there.”

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