Two workers were killed Wednesday afternoon (8-8) on the site of the Pickathon Festival in Happy Valley, Oregon, just outside of Portland, while helping to disassemble the tents above the main stage. Located on the Pendarvis Farm, the Pickathon Festival occurred last weekend (August 1st-4th), with headliners such as Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, Tyler Childers, and Mandolin Orange.
At about 4:37 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, Clackamas Fire District 1 responded to a call from the Pendarvis Farm. According to Capt. Brandon Paxton of Clackamas Fire, workers were using a 40-foot cherry picker crane to remove the tent over the festival’s main stage—also refereed to as the Mt. Hood stage—when the cherry picker tipped over, killing both individuals inside the basket.
The two individuals—whose names have not been released publicly—worked for event design company GuildWorks, which for over 20 years has designed and installed custom canopies for outdoor events, dubbing themselves as “Architecture in the Air.” Pickathon is world renown for the intricate canopy made of different pieces of diamond-shaped material that are tied to the festival site’s tall Douglas fir trees designed and maintained by GuildWorks, as well as the other fabric structures that adorn the site. Many of the most recognizable photos from Pickathon include the Mt. Hood stage’s intricate canopy, and often performers and other dignitaries take rides in the company’s cherry pickers to get a bird’s eye view of the festival site.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic loss of two members of the GuildWorks crew during breakdown of this year’s festival,” Pickathon said in a public statement Wednesday night. “Please join us in offering up prayers and support to their families and friends during this difficult time. All involved in Pickathon are like members of a family to us. We will wrap our collective arms around all affected and share in the grieving process.”
Started in 1988 as a one day bluegrass festival, Pickathon has now expanded to a four day festival with multiple stages and venues featuring music from across many genres. Despite capping off ticket sales at or around 3,500, the festival is known for being widely influential in music, and for helping launch the careers of multiple artists including Sturgill Simpson, The Avett Brothers, Lake Street Dive, and others. In 2019, Tyler Childers and Mike and the Moonpies made appearances at Pickathon to coincide with album releases.
In 2011, Pickathon became the first major outdoor festival to become a zero-waste site, with no one-use plates, cups, or utensils used. Pickathon is also known for producing hours of video content each year, both from stage performances, as well as from specific performances in intimate settings around the site. Pickathon also is well-known for being a family friendly event, with entertainment and activities for kids. The festival founder is Zale Schoenborn.
More information on the tragic deaths when it becomes available. You can read Saving Country Music’s coverage of the 2019 Pickathon Festival HERE.