One of the best things about being in Portland is the diversity of fantastic events and festivals. One of our favorite longtime running events is Tiki Kon, which is in its 14th year, and for the past two Tiki Kons they have used Scout Books to make booklets for their guests. We love the jubilant atmosphere that Tiki-Kon embodies, and the inventive passports they created for the event, so we asked producer Greg Clapp a few questions about the event.
Can you tell us a bit about Tiki Kon?
Tiki Kon is a celebration of exotic tropical destinations and the art, fashion and culture they inspire. It’s a throwback to the golden age of the Tiki bar in the decades after WWII, when returning GIs reflected on their time in the South Pacific, and the jet age opened the world to curious tourists. Our annual convention takes place over a weekend in July, with shows and activities Thursday through Sunday at the Red Lion at Jantzen Beach. There’s live music (exotica, lounge, surf rock, etc.), symposiums and presentations, vendors, artists, author signings, dining, a home bar tour, classic Tiki cocktails, and amazing vintage fashion throughout. Tiki Kon has been going on in one form or another for 16 years, but it’s really grown and blossomed in the past 5 and become an event that attracts guests from all around the country.
How did the idea of creating booklets for the event come about?
Mainly, we wanted to find inexpensive, high-quality booklets we could use for our event programs, and a friend recommended Scout Books. We’d been using the busted old folded-photocopy type of program, but wanted to present a more professional image. The passport format was a natural fit, since exotic travel plays such big part in Tiki Kon themes. We also used to make our weekend pass holders wear wristbands for admission to the different shows and symposiums, but wearing a wristband for 3 days is awful. Now each guest gets stamps in a snappy passport booklet that fits easily into a pocket or handbag. The stamps indicate the guest’s admission level, and they just flash it at the door to get in. They can also collect more stamps throughout the weekend, so it’s sort of a game. This is our second year using Scout Books for the booklets, and the guests are hooked.
We think the integration of sponsors alongside event information is really well done in these books. Are sponsors excited to get print placement like this?
We’ve gotten really good feedback from our sponsors. They love the quality of the printing and finishing, and they get placement among the performer schedules, bios, and event info. The ads get a LOT of eyeballs, and guests tend to keep the booklets as souvenirs after the event. Everyone loves them. I sound like a shill, but it’s true. We could never go back to wristbands and normal programs now.
Is there an event you’re particularly fond of at Tiki Kon?
By far the Sunday brunch and home bar tour is my favorite part of Tiki Kon. We put 150 VIP guests on buses on the last day, Sunday. The first stop is brunch, then the buses split up for an all-day guided Tik tour of some of Portland’s best home bars. There are a lot of really amazing basement and patio Tiki bars tucked away in this town. Some of the more elaborate ones provide the full-on retro Polynesian-pop experience, with fancy cocktails, tropical plants, puffer fish, water features, carved idols, nautical artifacts, Tiki mugs, and relics from bygone Portland establishments like the Jasmine Tree, Kon-Tiki and Trader Vic’s. Everyone on the tour is dressed in their brightest vintage Hawaiian shirts and dresses, mingling in basement bars and rumpus rooms that could be right out of the 1960s. It’s like time travel!
Do you have a favorite tiki-inspired cocktail?
I don’t know if I could name just one, there are so many great ones out there. I lean more towards basic, spirit-forward cocktails. The classic mai tai is the quintessential Tiki drink–it’s how I judge a Tiki bar. The drink is simple to make but easy to foul up if you don’t pay attention to proportions or don’t use the right ingredients. No pineapple juice! Just rum, lime, sugar syrup, orange curacao, and orgeat. I also like classic daiquiris–just lime, sugar and rum, shaken with ice and served up. It’s a great way to audition new rums. But I’ve also been known to indulge in more complex drinks, like a flaming jet pilot or coconaut at my favorite local Tiki bar, Hale Pele.