By DAVE LEDER
Gorge News Report
The ax has officially fallen, and the Gorge Games will not return to the Columbia River Gorge in 2003.
After months of negotiations and searching for a title sponsor, Connecticut-based Octagon Marketing has abandoned its plans for the annual outdoor festival until 2004.
"Basically, the companies that expressed interest didn't step up," said Peggy Lalor, part-owner of the Gorge Games. "Octagon didn't want to put themselves out on a limb, so they chose to focus on 2004 instead."
Octagon had set a Feb. 15 "drop dead" date to find a title sponsor, and when nothing concrete had surfaced, they decided to focus their efforts on the future.
Lalor said the Gorge Games could return in 2004, and that no one is to blame for the cancellation. She pointed to the failing economy and the stance many companies have right now of not taking unnecessary risks. But Lalor also insisted that the Gorge Games concept is still very much alive, and that by focusing on the future, both she and Octagon can ensure an even better festival than in years past.
"It's going to come down to what makes sense for the future," Lalor said "We're not going to put ourselves at risk right not, but we're still going to listen to ideas for how we can do something this summer."
Lalor said she is in the process of exploring alternatives for the Gorge Games.
"We're going to give an overview of what has happened, and then talk about what we can do to support a more locally-driven festival," she explained. "There are so many ifs right now, and it's going to depend on how much the community wants it."