PORTLAND, Ore. -- Following an impasse with city officials over new restrictions, organizers of the Last Thursday on Alberta said Monday they are stepping down from running the popular arts fair.
Friends of Last Thursday held a press conference to announce they would no long be organizing the street festival. They said that vendors and onlookers will likely still show up to this week's Last Thursday, but they will not be there.
The organizers’ move came in response to more city-imposed restrictions unveiled on June 18 regarding how the festival is run and controlled.
Monday's news is the latest development in Last Thursday's uncertain future. Last month, organizers worked with the city to secure the festival's first ever official permit. However, city officials say certain expectations, such as more volunteers and a 10 p.m. closure time were not being met.
That prompted city official to tighten the rules this month, drawing ire from Friends of Last Thursday.
The new rules include a mandate that organizers shorten the festival by two street blocks, allow for more portable restrooms and to clear out of the northeast Portland neighborhood at 9 p.m. Street sweepers with pressurized hoses also were to be called in to clear the streets at the end of the festival.
"This administration has chosen to ignore our volunteer effort," said Jeff Hilber, logistics coordinator for Friends of Last Thursday. "They’ve chosen to ignore our expertise and all of the experience we’ve gathered in how to make this event work."
The organizers' resignation came as a surprise to city officials, said Dana Haynes, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales’ spokesman.
Haynes said the city saw the new requirements not as a list of demands, but as a conversation on how to better maintain and control the popular festival.
"There are certain things you have to have. The number of port-a-potties is one of them. We don’t think that’s egregious," Haynes said. "Number of volunteers, we don’t think that’s egregious. Everybody else has to do it. we think they can get there."
The future of the eclectic street fair remains to be seen. Organizers and city officials expect folks to still turn out on Thursday.
The event began 16 years ago without a formal group of organizers and might just continue on its own.