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  • Sandra Cesca

Oregon Country Fair

Okay all you old hippies and deadheads! This is the fair for you. Held the second weekend in July on rural farm land 13 miles outside of Eugene, Oregon, this is a whimsical magical experience of music, jugglers, acrobats, fire dancers, artists, human puppets on stilts, folks dressed in outrageous costumes, food, and good times. Until 1977, the fair was known as the Oregon Renaissance Faire.

Begun in 1969, this non-profit fair was created as a fundraiser for local children’s programs and often included music concerts such as the Grateful Dead. Over the years, the fair has become a space where people could be free to be their most authentic selves. Where the entire community could come together to create a safe place where each individual is heard, loved, respected and valued for who they are. This is a unique concept for a fair and has continued to be so over the past 50 years. Many of the original organizers are gone now but the tradition carries on.

Booths are everywhere tucked in the trees, along the river, and out in the open fields. Many of these rustic structures stay here all year only to be repaired and readied each July for the fair. Some of the families running these booths have been here for many years…and some old timers since the beginning. They camp in their booths or in tents in small groups.

My friend, who has been coming for years, knew many of these folks so we got to go behind the scenes to relax and talk and compare stories from years past. This year the over 475 booths offered tie dyed cloths, shirts, and baby cloths along with magical hats, jewelry of feathers or gem stones, wood carvings, ceramics, metal work, headbands of rosebuds, essential oils and perfumes…just about anything that can be crafted by hand. Many of these artisans sell their creations at other fairs throughout the summer. Some sell at Saturday Markets, some even have retail shops. But all look forward to the Fair for fun, relaxation and reconnection with the other families they have known through the years.

Additionally, there were 85 food booths, 22 music stages, and numerous educational and craft classes for all ages. We spent all day there, along with the 20,000 other people, leaving tired and happy. More photos and stories here.

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