Our visit to the 2019 Oregon Country Fair

I’ve been Oregon County Fair–curious for many years now, and the date finally made it on the calendar. It happened to be the 50th year of that hippie celebration outside of Eugene.

We left early for Eugene.

I had read it was best to take a shuttle from Eugene to the fair site and I timed our arrival to just before the first bus. That was a mistake. If you want to get to the fair at the opening time, arrive very early for the shuttles.

We chose the standing line, which was moving faster than the sitting line. The lines were very organized, and the shuttle buses came quickly.

I had envisioned the shuttle bus ride to be 10-15 minutes. It was about 45 minutes. When we arrived, we picked up our wristbands (another smooth process) and then there was a bit of confusion as to where to go to get in.

We walked to the back of a very long line that didn’t seem to be moving and as we got nearer to the end of the line a gate (maybe one outside a parking lot?) was suddenly thrown open and a roiling boil of not-happy people surged toward the end of the line.

We ran so we could be in front of them, and a mostly orderly–but still angry–queue formed behind us. Soon after, the long line started moving very fast and we made it into the Fair.

That was the only ugly moment of the day. Fair volunteers were super happy and welcoming and things moved smoothly, especially considering the number of people in a small space. However, it did feel for a moment like there was going to be a hippie riot. Which is probably a pretty low-key riot.

Matt poses next to the Fair Drama Danger sign.

A random happening: stilt walking teeth people.

The fair is a lot of booths and a goodly amount of stages. One of the things I loved was that most of the booths were semi-permanent structures with platforms where booth people and their friends could hang out above the fray. It was fun to see what’s been built up over the years.

Also: condom roses. And I think there were four different booths I saw selling fantasy horns.

Here’s a fun sculpture in an open meadow space.

We checked out the Charlie Brown Comedy Juggling Show. His shtick was that he wasn’t very good at doing comedy juggling shows. But he was. It was quite entertaining.

Here’s a glimpse of fairgoers. This group skewed older, but the costumes, and tie-dye were pretty standard across ages.

We went to the Spirit Tower to see Patch Adams, and caught the end of the Ace of Cups concert. Which was amazing, and I don’t have any pictures because they were being blocked by a tree. I’ve lived more than four decades and this is the first time I’ve seen a live band whose members consist of women. And apparently they “were at the epicenter of the ‘60s cultural and social revolution. ” This was a big win.

Patch Adams was also good. He discussed his approach to changing the American healthcare system. It was great to be able to see a living legend.

More fun fair details. Why have a standard fence, when you can instead have a fun fence?

Throughout the fair were maps in different styles. This one was perhaps my favorite fun, though less legible than others.

We didn’t have a strategy for going to shows, which would be something to revisit for our next visit. But we did sample the food and the food is amazing! It’s the best fair food I’ve ever eaten. Many of the vendors return year after year. Because this was the 50th year, there were vendor stories at some of the booths. The falaful booth we visited has been there for three generations. (And one of the oldest members waved a wand over our strawberry lemon aid to give it that final Fair touch.)

I always love a good land payments display.

This fair is one weekend a year and mostly volunteer run. I marvel at the organization and commitment of the people who make it happen.

Waiting for the shuttle back. Volunteers told us jokes and helped everyone sit in an efficient manner (always appreciated.)

Car art.

Our seat on the bus. I opted for sitting on the way back. It was a long day.

“You don’t have to dress like a hippie to have your photo taken at the Oregon Country Fair.” So said the guy as we were standing in line for our photo booth photo.

That comment caused a raised eyebrow, but I loved that they had a free photo booth.

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