Music fest, triathlon merge their energies

Mayor Paul Blackburn, with help from intern, Elizabeth Bailey, honors board members who are stepping down from Gorge Kids Triathlon after six years. Bailey bestows a puka necklace on Mike Schrankel during a brief ceremony Sunday prior to the event, at Waterfront Park beach. Details in story at right.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
Mayor Paul Blackburn, with help from intern, Elizabeth Bailey, honors board members who are stepping down from Gorge Kids Triathlon after six years. Bailey bestows a puka necklace on Mike Schrankel during a brief ceremony Sunday prior to the event, at Waterfront Park beach. Details in story at right.



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MacRae Wylde’s two-piece sculpture, “Urban Tripods,” waits in the background Sunday as youngsters paint plexiglass cubes under the direction of artist Allison Bell Fox during the Gorge Kids Triathlon, in Hood River Waterfront Park. The Arts in Education of the Gorge project brought together the two artists, and dozens of children, for an effort delayed one day by rain.

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The two parts of the project come together. (It has since moved to a temporary location.) The painting project was scheduled to happen during Saturday’s Music Festival of the Gorge, at the amphitheater, but that event was moved to Springhouse Cellar due to weather concerns. The sculptures could not be transported, so Bell and company regrouped the next day — under clear skies.

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Chrissy Reitz, left, and her Triathlon successor, Nicole Sibert-Faaborg.

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Rainy weather could not stop the music on Saturday. Organizers and volunteers rallied to quickly relocate the second annual event to Springhouse Cellars, where people of all ages enjoyed music in the fundraiser for Hood River County Schools.

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Michelle Sibley, Ann Hayes, and Claire Hayes model “MFOG” t-shirts. Hats and shirts are still for sale; see the Music Festival of the Gorge Facebook page.

Two events, and the common elements of art and exercise, overlapped last weekend in ways that showed how nimble and creative the Hood River community can be.

The second annual Music Festival of the Gorge, aka MFOG (Saturday) and the sixth annual Gorge Kids Triathlon (Sunday) were both scheduled at Hood River Waterfront Park, and while the triathlon came off as planned under perfect weather, music festival organizers had to shift gears to get out of the rain.

Both events raise funds for local education programs, and involve many of the same participants. The triathlon raised about $10,000 Sunday, attracting about 1,000 people including the 310 kids who swam. Chrissy Reitz has been triathlon chair for six years, and her husband, Max Reitz, and his fellow Cripple Hop musicians are among the chief organizers of MFOG, which is done in association with Arts in Education of the Gorge. (See photos on page A8.) MFOG is in memory of Matt Klee, an avid cyclist and arts supporter who died unexpectedly in 2015.

As rain threatened Saturday, the MFOG organizers knew they needed a plan B. Calls were made to various potential venues, but everything was booked — except the typically busy Springhouse Cellars. Food trucks were contacted and musicians, volunteers, sound technicians all shifted to the impromptu music festival site with little trouble (thanks to a mid-day social media alert and a phone call and texting blitz). Hundreds of people packed the winery and covered porch.

The event raised about $9,000, a big success, according to organizers.

Max Reitz credited Springhouse management and sound man Marcus Nordvik for their quick response, and described the course of events this way:

“As things started happening, we got ahold of Dan Goldman (school superintendent) about getting the word out to PTO web sites and Facebook, and we tried to create a phone and text tree, saying, ‘Even if you’re not going, tell all your friends.’

“My phone went crazy with updates and I could see it was being shaped through power of social media,” he said. “I got ahold of Victor Johnson, our opening musician, who is a real pro, and he was ready to go as soon as we were doing last sound check. We had people on ladders hanging lights, just a flurry of activity, and the crowd had already started to gather, volunteers showed up and helped out every way they could … and next thing we know we had all these people helping us make it happen.”

Yet one key MFOG piece was too big and heavy to move: “Urban Tripods,” the latest big-art installation by Hood River’s MacRae Wylde.

“It was something MacRae and Max Reitz had talked about, creating an art installation developed during the music festival and then somehow illuminated,” said Arts in Education director Shelly Toon Lindberg. The plan was to have children paint plexiglass cubes on Saturday, and internally illuminated at around 9 p.m. during the set by headliners’ Quick and Easy Boys.

Chrissy Reitz agreed that the painting project was an ideal fit for Sunday, and dozens of youngsters got involved after the race.

Wylde said, “It was great to be able to shift gears and segue right to the triathlon. It worked out pretty well.”

Wylde, who is an artist in residence with Arts in Education, said “the graphics came out really well, and they will look great illuminated.” He described the panels as “a timeline of Matt Klee and his life and what he did in the Gorge,” with image including fish riding bikes on waves with sails attached, reflecting Klee’s love of wind sports, biking, and the arts.

Lindberg said she and her husband, Paul Lindberg, went to the park on Sunday night and saw people standing under the cubes and walking around the tripods to see it at all angles.

“They inspired curiosity,” Lindberg said. Backlight from the setting sun accomplished, albeit briefly, the goal of illuminating the painted cubes

Wylde installed light sockets inside the cubes, so the interior illumination can be done another time. Urban Tripods and the cubes are for sale, and currently visible next to Wylde’s property on Highline Drive.

Matt Klee’s sister, Amy, said the event turned out “better than we could have imagined. I didn’t think we had time to think about whether it was going wot work or not: we were just going to make the best of it. I liked it just as much as the waterfront. Springhouse turned out to be a more intimate environment, which we have seen often in the past. It just kind of pulls people together.”



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