Riverfront Park

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Migin on January 21, 2004

Riverfront Park covering 23-acres along the Willamette River in downtown Salem is a success story for the community. The land was part of the Boise Cascade paper mill operations for a long time and then sat unused for years, long enough to become an eyesore. It took years from when the idea of converting it into a park was first put forward to the point where it actually became usable as such. The land had to go through a major and totally unexpected decontamination of industrial waste and poison, which almost derailed the project. The concept of what the park should contain, how it should be laid out, even the amount and location of parking and pedestrian access were discussed again and again. The vision kept changing. Today, it’s a popular hang-out, has been voted the best community park, and contains a number of places that are destinations of their own.

Also in the park:
--Amphitheater: Generally used as part of some other event.
-- Eco-Earth Globe: An old industrial acid-ball, 25-feet in diameter, painted as a globe. This solution to the last vestige of previous industrial use in the park was brought about by popular agreement.

The gently rolling terrain is laced with paths and sprinkled with benches. Open green spaces are an invitation to romp with dogs or kids or toss about a Frisbee. The riverside is dotted with overlooks and picnic facilities. The river hosts an interesting variety of wildlife, lots of water birds both transient and permanent, as well as the occasional human variety in a canoe. On my last visit I watched a beaver cross the river and saw a flock of seagulls visiting from the coast.

--Events vary throughout the year and are posted in the Statesman Journal.
--The World Beat Festival takes place the last weekend in June. This is a multi-cultural festival representing 5 continents. It pretty much takes over the park, they need all that space. There are more than 100 demonstrations, and performances from a wide range of cultures: Bonsai creation and care, tea ceremonies from a number of nations; drums, dances, and storytelling of the Native American cultures; step dancing, tap dance, martial arts, mahjonng, taiko drummers, chamber music, klezmer music (Jewish soul), belly dance, fencing, didjeridu and percussion, and folk dancers from Nepal and Laos are just a sampling of what’s offered. Also enjoy the foods, games, activities -- too numerous to mention. There are even several parades including a Parade of Nations. You’re sure to see old favorites and just as sure to discover something new all for a suggested donation of $2. All proceeds go to benefit cultural programs at AC Gilbert Discovery Village .

The park is bounded by Front and Marion Streets, and by the Willamette River.
Contact: SalemParks@open.org

Riverfront Park
116 Marion Street Northeast
Salem, Oregon


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