I went with a friend and her twin daughters to the 38th annual Oregon Country Fair, an hour southwest of here near the town of Veneta, west of Eugene. I'd been once before and my impressions were hot, dusty, and like entering into a realm of Middlearth. This year felt calmer, less frenetic—maybe we went early, before the Saturday crush of crowds. Still, there were the costumes, the parades, the buskers playing the saws and tiny stringed instruments along the winding paths, still the mosquitoes and fairies on stilts. The fair takes place on acreage flooded by the Long Tom River during the rainy season and winter. I didn't know this fact until yesterday. Which means that all of the permanent "installations"—the various trees and trunks and branches fashioned into stalls and benches and upper stories and sculptures—are under water. So it really is like an "other earth" place then, when the summer arrives and the waters recede and what was hidden returns, emergesn as a kind of recurring vision. People and their need for the tribe. And now, three generations and counting and while many hippies also wage-slave escapees who use these three days as their release valve from the pressures of their 9 to 5 grind. Many camp the entire time on nearby properties where, it seems, many of the neighbors have finally decided if you can't beat them let alone join them, you may as well make a buck. Green Tortoise was there with a spanking new green (of course) bus bringing revelers from the Bay Area. Schoolbuses that are campers and one especially fantastic VW vanwith every inch painted and a bumper sticker announcing its recent participation in an annual ArtCar event.
The Peace Pit newsletter (complete with maps and guides to all the food and craft booths where you can drop a pretty penny with tremendous, consumer-market ease) talked a lot about sustainability this year. The bio fuels folks had literature and their vehicles outside an entrance. Inside, the big thing was using real flatware instead of plastic. Spackling buckets were hanging here and there for you to dispose of the forks and knives; students from the nearby Elmira (Oregon not New York!) High School were doing the washing. And a booth near Rising Sun's ravioli shack called Bubbles where you could actually wash for half an hour and get free food.
Yes, lots of tie dye. Yes, many nearly-naked people of all ages and body types painted or festooned with feathers or fishnet or tutus or pareos draped and knotted to cover barely this and that. Yes, drumming and Wavy Gravy playing bad music on the Main Stage. The highlight for me was a ten-minute foot massage after what must have been five hours of wandering the dusty paths.To plunge my aching, falling arches feet into a cold tub of water and have their crusted callouses smeared with coarse salts and then Jonathon (recently re-located to Bellingham, Washington from Eugene) with his capable hands working all the ache out of my tendons and muscles—that was my Country Fair bliss!