Concern over encampments leads to Polish Festival cancelation

Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 6:22 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - For the third year in a row, the Portland Polish Festival is canceled but this time, the safety concerns aren’t related to COVID-19.

For 25 years, the Polish Library Building Association (PLBA) has hosted the Polish Festival as way for their community to celebrate their heritage. The pandemic canceled the festival in 2020 and 2021. In 2022, organizers blamed unsafe conditions on North Failing Street.

Organizers said encampments on the street have made it hard to throw a safe event. Edward Kolinski, a member of the festival planning committee said that at one point, there were half a dozen camps surrounding PLBA.

“It’s not nice because people are even afraid to come here in the evening,” Kolinski said.

While on the scene, FOX 12′s crew did see Portland Police interacting with two of the encampments about 100 feet away from PLBA. Kolinski said this is an example of why the Polish Festival was canceled. He feels like the city doesn’t care.

“There’s no obvious support from the city of Portland to make this festival happen,” Kolinski said. “We cannot risk a lot of work for no benefit if we have no order here.”

The President of PLBA sent this statement about canceling the festival:

“The Portland Polish Festival is a cornerstone of the Polish community in North Portland. It helps us share and preserve our culture. After being canceled for the past two years due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we were excited to resume the Polish Festival. Unfortunately, due to the rising crime and homelessness in North Portland, we think it’s too great of a risk to our attendees to hold the festival this year and have had to cancel it.

“We hope that this problem can be brought under control so we can resume our festival, which has been a highlight for the past quarter century.”

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office did not give a comment on safety on and around North Failing Street.

Kolinski said they are working on plans to replace the Polish Festival but nothing is final. He said he wants city leaders to hear this message.

“We invite you to the festival but we’re asking you for help and obvious support that’ll signal to the polish community, okay you can do this without any problem,” he said.