“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.
[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.
[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.
[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).
[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.
[Dusty hippy art.]
[Evening sunlight filters through the dust with hippies in the foreground.]
[Hippies! And dust!!]