2022 World Athletics Championships: the Eugene Riverfront Festival kicks off in sunshine and joy

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“Joy” was the key emotion Friday afternoon at the Eugene Riverfront Festival, as parents, children and spectators cooked in the July sunshine on the first day of the Oregon22 World Championships in Athletics.

A troupe of 11 musicians playing lively music beat their xylophones and sang while several women in front of the stage danced in flip flops, three of them holding babies. An older woman next to them leaned on a cane with her left arm but didn’t miss a beat as she stepped back and forth and back again.

“Love it,” said Sue Harnly, a spectator occupying one of the most popular spots in the shade, projected by a tent housing most of the sound system. “They are the essence of what it is. Just joy.

In one of the kick-off events for the 10-day World Championships in Athletics, the festival drew several hundred people early Friday afternoon, with room for many more.

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Scheduled for the duration of the Championships, the festival will run until 10 p.m. daily until July 24 and will feature dozens of acts, including DJs, dance groups and even magic shows.

For those trying to split their time between performance art and sports, a giant screen on the festival grounds broadcasts the track events live. The hungry can find food carts including barbecue, Ethiopian, Indonesian, and pizza, the thirsty can find beer, and the spendthrift but chic can find leather goods, vintage clothing, and accessories. works of art.

Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis replaced the Kidana Marimba group around 1 p.m. and kicked off the rest of the show as dozens of children dressed to play moved to the side, chatting, twirling in boredom or practicing the dance routines they were about to show.

For those interested in the sport but also want to be at the Eugene Riverfront Festival on Friday, July 15, 2022, a gigantic screen broadcast the athletics events from the World Championships in Athletics.

“The summer of 2022 has finally arrived,” said the mayor. “And you landed at the place to be.

Although Eugene’s thousands of athletes hoped to make a name for themselves, the children and their family members in the audience had more humble goals.

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Sitting at one of the tables with an umbrella, Georgene Hoester waited for the turn of her daughter’s dance group. The 13-year-old and her dance partners wore shiny silver reflective shorts and jackets for their hip hop routine.

While the youngster had been dancing with the same studio since she was around three years old, she only learned a week ago that she was going to perform at the festival, her mother said.

“Huge,” Hoester said when asked how important performing at the festival is to her daughter, Lorelei Louderback. “It will be this summer that she will have to do that.”

The two years were difficult for the child, Hoester said, as she missed a year of in-person school and then had to readjust to in-person instruction. And she skipped things that had previously been just family traditions, including getting her face painted during the summer. She had done this every year since she was under two, Hoester said, except for last year.

When Hoester saw the festival had a tent with the same makeup company that had been doing it for her for the past decade, she texted the girl to let her know. She replied with a “heart” emoji.

“I don’t know what that means,” Hoester said, wondering if the girl “might be too old for this.”

Time will tell, and first there was the show to do.

World Athletics Championships: Eugene Riverfront Festival

Georgene Hoester films her daughter’s dance crew performance at the Eugene Riverfront Festival on Friday, July 15, 2022.

Back in front of the stage, those brave enough to stand in the sunshine and watch closely were rewarded with the jaw-dropping sight of clumsy children moving with educated confidence to grown-up music that pounded a shaky bass of concrete.

“Oh my god,” someone said as six kids around seven or eight took the stage.

Sarah Mazze smiled during the performance as her husband next to her sang the lyrics to the song Jurassic 5. The couple’s daughter was doing a routine with a band that hadn’t taken the stage yet, but the children were all practiced in the same dance studio, so the parents had seen the other kids’ rehearsals many times before.

And yet, routines never get old.

“Every time we can’t stop smiling,” Mazze said.

She tried to put words to this feeling which made her smile.

“A lot of joy,” Mazze said.

Towards the end of the hour-long series of dance numbers, it was time for Hoester’s daughter to perform. Hoester and her husband and father-in-law left their shady hideaway and approached the scene. Hoester filmed the show on his cell phone.

“It was good,” she told her husband as the routine ended and the family began to retreat to the shadow they had left behind. “It was fun.”

World Athletics Championships: Eugene Riverfront Festival

Lorelei Louderback, 13, had her face painted after performing a dance routine at the Eugene Riverfront Festival on Friday July 15.

Shortly after, the girl sat in a high chair with her eyes closed as the same woman who had painted her face for the past decade held her hair back and gently applied paint and glitter around it. of his left eye to illustrate the blue peacock feathers.

“Ooh, that’s so awesome,” Hoester cooed, encouraging his silent daughter.

“She’s grown so much, oh my god,” the makeup artist said as he looked at the girl, who was now getting a temporary tattoo on her right arm.

Did she want extra glitter on the sides, the artist asked?

The girl hesitated before nodding just enough to communicate that she had, and the adults present laughed.

— Fedor Zarkhin

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