Oregon Country Fair

July 16th, 2008 by: cheyenne

“It’s kind of like the Renaissance Faire except with hippies.” This was Michelle’s take and I’ve never been to a Renaissance faire but 40,000 people pining for 1969 instead of 1540 seems like it ought to be a marked difference. However, I’m sure she’s right; we had food, we had crafts, we had entertainment, and we had dust. Lots of dust. And we had a great time.

Oregon Country Fair - Cheyenne Ronin and Michelle

[Set against a backdrop of dust and hippies.]

Our first inevitable stop was Toby’s Tofu Palace where we got into the spirit by infusing our bodies with organic vegetables and soy product.

Fair food is abundant and varied (there are a LOT of ways you can prepare tofu) and overall excellent. The best thing I ate that day was vegan coconut ice cream. Ah, you smirk at the thought of vegan ice cream but I’m telling you, the best chocolate cookies I have ever had were vegan (made by our friend CJ’s old roommate in Menlo Park) and I mock not the vegan treats.

Oregon Country Fair - Please Keep Moving

[Dust and hippies keep moving.]

The fairgrounds are huge but primarily wooded and the action takes place along dirt paths under large shady trees. Because of this, spending nine hours wandering dusty vendor-lined streets with multitudes of kindred souls is generally pleasant and largely non-taxing. Architecturally curious permanent booths are constructed along the paths and everything is weathered and covered in moss. Booths sell either food, pottery, tie-dye, beaded jewelry, or sundries such as yoga or massage. (I’m guessing at a Renaissance fair this would be barbecued turkey legs, pottery, crushed velvet Elizabethan garb/feathered poet caps, beaded jewelry, and sundries such as face painting and massage.) A bunch of stages are set up throughout the area and music and vaudeville acts run nonstop the entire weekend.

Oregon Country Fair - Stick Dragon Shade Structure

[This stick structure was jam packed with dusty hippy kids, unless they were hobbits.]

We plotted our course to hit several of the vaudeville acts but it’s hard to get from one place to another in any timely manner (the place is huge and fantastical winged creatures, tree-folk, and naked painted people distract one) so we only made it to three or four shows. Shows we saw leaned heavily toward the juggling/acrobatics, which of course was like 80% of show fodder. The other 20% revolved around jokes about Long Tom River (this is of course the stagnant slough that winds through the fair property).

Oregon Country Fair Crowd Shot

[Some hippies in the dust.]

I’ve been told that while the fairgrounds are a wondrous thing, even wondrouser are the grounds when there is nobody there, during off-season. Someone I know and his cousin (no names mentioned here!) used to walk the railroad tracks (this is before there was a road) and climb the fence into the property. There they would run the deserted streets amongst the dank hobbity structures while they may or may not have partook in (cough) strong beverages, or something.

Oregon Country Fair - Wire Dragonfly

Oregon Country Fair - Cedar Crow

[Dusty hippy art.]

Oregon Country Fair - Main Gate

[Evening sunlight filters through the dust with hippies in the foreground.]

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[Hippies! And dust!!]

6 Comments on “Oregon Country Fair”

  1. CJ says:

    Hah! “Architecturally curious” is my new favorite phrase!

    I sent your post to Jim (the maker of the cookies), he’ll be pleased.

  2. Peg Bowden says:

    Ah, such memories. The Faire looks like it did back in circa 1982. Once we took the Crater Cabaret to the Faire to perform for the teenagers. (the teen theater from Central Point) We were a great hit—altho keeping track of 10 teenagers over the course of the weekend was daunting. (and impossible) We camped outside with the vendors. Herbal smoke filled the air. It’s a miracle I wasn’t fired. –Mom

  3. Ginger says:

    I like the video but there was one very important person you forgot to focus on as you circled the fair…umm. Looks warm and inviting. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Kurt says:

    I miss that fair. I went to Moxie Fest this weekend, which is basically an entire region coming out to honor a soft drink. Good fun.

  5. Jan Leonard says:

    Jogged memories of the Faire at Black Point in Marin County circa 1969 with REAL hippies, all dressed in period costumes (workers AND visitors). Add a little LSD for a mind-blowing adventure. It’s a miracle I can even remember it.

  6. Thermochronic says:

    CJ’s old Menlo Park room-mate here, you made my day with your positive chocolate chip cookie review! Thanks!

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Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell