In the summer of 1962 a small group of East Jordan residents led by Cyg Riley decided that East Jordan was a perfect location to help local artists exhibit and sell their works. Summer resident painter Sarkis Sarkisian from the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts told Mrs. Riley that if East Jordan could host a summer arts fair he would bring up 10 of his artists to exhibit.
The inaugural fair in August 1962 featured 30 exhibiting artists. Since that time, the fair has grown to its limit of 75 exhibitors featuring a variety of mixed media. Portside has a reputation for displaying both the works of established artists as well as the works of new and innovative young artists.
Portside has been held at the Elm Pointe Estate on the shore of beautiful Lake Charlevoix since 1972. The purchase prize was instituted in 1971. Each year a judge educated in the visual arts selects artwork deemed best of show. These pieces become part of the permanent Portside collection displayed in the Cygred Riley Gallery at Elm Pointe. The Gallery was dedicated in 1987 as a tribute to the efforts of Mrs. Riley.
Artists are required to meet high eligibility standards to exhibit at Portside. Participation is open to all artists and craftspeople who exhibit work of original design and execution. Portside seeks to maintain the highest standards for both the artist and viewing public.
Artists set up displays on the lawn surrounding the 100 year old homestead turned summer estate. Musicians entertain the artists and buyers while mouthwatering All-American favorites like hot dogs and apple pie are available at The Depot Teen Center food booth.