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The Oregonian: Wordstock moves from Oregon Convention Center to Portland State in 2015
Author: Jeff Baker, The Oregonian
Posted: September 19, 2013

Read the original story in The Oregonian here.


Kimberly Kline, left and Rosemary Lombard talk books at last year's Wordstock festival in the Oregon Convention Center. (ROSS WILLIAM HAMILTON/THE OREGONIAN)

This year's Wordstock will be the last in the Oregon Convention Center. The literary festival will take next year off and move to Portland State University in the spring of 2015.

The move is happening for several reasons. Festival organizers and participants have long been unhappy with the sterile atmosphere in the convention center and have complained repeatedly about sound quality and other issues. By moving from fall to spring, organizers believe they will get out of the crowded fall festival season and move to a more visible location with a willing host.

"We just think this partnership makes so much sense," said festival director Katie Merritt. "We just felt the festival ... it needs to evolve. It's grown beyond the convention center."

Wordstock has been in the convention center since its inception in 2005, and the search for another location intensified in recent years. The Park Blocks were a possibility if it became an outdoor event and Reed College was considered but had location and transportation issues.

Moving to Portland State could mean a smaller festival. Merritt and Wordstock executive director Nancy Ellis said the Smith Memorial Student Union would be the main location for Wordstock events and the overall footprint at PSU might be smaller than at the convention center. Shelly Chabon, an associate dean at Portland State, said Wordstock events could be held across the campus.

This year's festival is Oct. 5-6. The next festival will be March 13-15, 2015 during spring break, when students aren't on campus. The 18-month gap between festivals is because there wasn't enough time to move to PSU by next spring.

Merritt and Ellis tried not to criticize the convention center but were excited about the possibilities at Portland State.

"Imagine the Portland flavor," Merritt said.

"Windows!" Ellis said.

"Whatever partners we want as far as catering, AV ..." Merritt said. "There have been problems with the set-up in a place that has the acoustics of a barn."

Wordstock has three staff members and is debt-free this year for the first time in its history. The announcement of the move to Portland State was met with applause at a reception for board members and stakeholders Wednesday night.

"I think it's going to bring so much energy to the festival," said author Pauls Toutonghi, a board member and assistant professor at Lewis & Clark College.

-- Jeff Baker