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Free event at Nadaka Nature Park provides music, activities, services for students

If you go

What: I Heart Rockwood, a combination of the former Rock the Block event and Nadaka Community Festival

When: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17

Where: Nadaka Nature Park, 17615 N.E. Glisan St.

Offerings: live music from My Happy Pill and others, Aztec dancers, food, haircuts, medical and dental checkups, nature activities

Sponsors: Rockwood Kiwanis Club, Friends of Nadaka, St. Aidan's Episcopal Church, city of Gresham, Multnomah County and Rockwood Preparatory Academy

PMG FILE PHOTO - Multnomah County Commissioner and Gresham resident Lori Stegmann marched in a previous Rock the Block parade. The event is being combined with the Nadaka Community Festival and Rock the Block for I Heart Rockwood on Saturday, Aug. 17. Two popular summer events in Gresham will become one on Saturday, Aug. 17, but organizers have no fear fans of the former Nadaka Community Festival and Rock the Block will feel shortchanged by the "I Heart Rockwood" Festival.

Taking place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17, at Nadaka Nature Park, 17615 N.E. Glisan St., the free I Heart Rockwood will feature live music from My Happy Pill along with Aztec dancers, food, haircuts, medical and dental checkups, nature activities, Portland Audubon's live education birds, community booths with information and activities and face painting.

"There are a couple of reasons for the merger," said event producer Jenna Ryan. "One is we realized we had the same event date (as each other). In the past, (the Nadaka event) was earlier in the summer. But the idea is to really outfit these kids and help parents be as prepared as possible for the (upcoming) school year."

The other reason involves the transitional status of Plaza del Sol at 187th Avenue and Stark Street, the former location of Rock the Block.

"Plaza del Sol is being turned into Rockwood Rising," Ryan added. "Nadaka is most logical place to have the festival and let the community know about resources they might not be using."

The primary goals of the combined event, Ryan noted, are to:

n make local residents aware of social services, resources and opportunities available in the Rockwood community;

n prepare local children for returning to school in September;

n provide children with free haircuts, medical/dental screenings and other services;

n foster a sense of pride and community for Rockwood residents through food, music, activities and other programming; and

n introduce Nadaka Nature Park and its programs as a valuable resource in the Rockwood neighborhood.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Kids gather around the old pump at Nadaka Nature Park. Timber Joey, super-fan of the Portland Timbers soccer club, is expected to make an appearance, alongside other special guests. The Kids Zone will be filled with activities like a bounce house and an Army tank to explore. Singers will perform throughout the day, with the end of the festival dedicated to a concert in the meadow.

"We will have 55 tabling partners that will be separate and away from the noise," Ryan noted, focused on goods and services such as school supplies, clothing, produce, utility billing assistance. Organizations including Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and the Boys and Girls Club also will be on hand "letting the community know about resources that are out there so they can connect with them," she said.

From 5-8 p.m., I Heart Rockwood will include a complimentary dinner with a concert by My Happy Pill. Described on the band's website as "Portland's premier party and dance band," the ensemble offers a "fun, eclectic mix of funk, pop, rock, soul, R & B, reggae and much more."

Ryan called the band, which boasts four lead singers, as "fantastic."

"There's so much variety in what they play," she said.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Rock the Block participants cavorted with llamas at the 2017 event. A primary focus of the event, which the Kiwanis Club of Rockwood sponsors and takes part in planning, is bringing greater awareness about Rockwood's cultural breadth.

"Rockwood is a really vibrant and interesting community," she said. "I think a lot of people drive through it, maybe give it a nod and then forget about it. It has many cultural attributes (and) is incredibly culturally diverse. Incredible food and art can be found."

Ryan encouraged families to bring what they need to settle in for a day of fun and relaxation.

"Bring blankets and lawn chairs," she said, "and be prepared to hang out and make yourself comfortable."


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