“Weird Al is going to be in town next week,” I said to Matt while perusing the entertainment section of the newspaper.
“I know, we’re going,” said Matt.
It wasn’t properly listed on the calendars, so it wasn’t on my radar, but I did dimly recall a text message chain in the colder months of the year making plans to go.
So my first Edgefield concert was Weird Al.
The line was long when we got there.
So long that I got to spend a lot of time contemplating what these structures were. Here’s what a website listing about the Poor Farm says:
By 1914, the Poor Farm was a success on paper. It housed 302 residents and managed a herd of Holstein dairy cows, 100 Duroc hogs (that ate the leftovers from the dining room), 420 Plymouth Rock hens, and 225 chickens. The crops, vegetables, fruit, hay, grain, eggs, and twenty-seven acres of potatoes were shared with the county jail (which provided some trustees to work in the fields), a hospital, and a juvenile home.
My first read was that it was maybe a jail, but upon re-reading I see the food was shared with those locations, not that they were located there. So I have no idea.
Update! I emailed the McMenamins Historian and Caitlin Popp wrote back saying:
Caitlin here from the McMenamins History Department! The structure that you were looking at on the Edgefield property was a minimum security jail. It was opened in the 1960s, was still open when McMenamins took over the property and didn’t close until 2006. Currently it is storage as well as artist studios.
So my initial thought was right! Also, how interesting that there was a jail operating for a time when McMenamins was running their hotel.
Back to the concert.
We secured our seats. When you get to the concert after work, you get to sit behind a tree. Also note that that man in the blue shirt is probably on the quest for the Passport. That’s a shirt from Centrailia they give you for getting that stamp. I’ve got the same one.
Waiting for the concert.
There wasn’t an opening act listed, but the 40-piece orchestra played three pieces, which was a nice treat.
Also early on, I was thrilled when Weird Al sang “One More Minute” which is from the 1985 album Dare to be Stupid and which, with it’s 50s styling, is my favorite Weird Al song.
The distance, the twilight and the tree got in the way of my usual slightly blurry, ultra-zoomed concert photos. This was my best shot. It was interesting that they had the orchestra, plus the drummer behind a wall, which I assume is for acoustic purposes. Someone has that job!
The crowd was the most multigenerational I’ve seen at a concert—everyone from grandparents to small children. He has been making music long enough to have reached multiple generations and I enjoyed seeing when different people had their peak Weird Al moment. Mine was in 1985, but there were a ton of people there who were all in on Amish Paradise from 1996.
Observation: people just wear whatever to a Weird Al concert. I saw two people in cosplay, and a few in Weird Al t-shirts, but most people looked like, they were wearing whatever they had put on that morning.
Another observation: Weird Al Yankovic can sing! I forget, because mostly he’s brilliant with lyrics and I’m paying attention to that, but this concert highlighted the man’s range.
For Harry Potter’s birthday, the Kennedy School had a celebration. We attended in the afternoon, which was good as there weren’t many people around.
We pose with our houses.
And then someone else took our picture.
Here was another photo backdrop.
They had merchants in Diagon’s Alley and a photo scavenger hunt, plus a bunch of riddles posted. There was a prize for the photo hunt. By the time we were done they had given out all 1000 prizes. Which was fine by me and a good testament to what a successful event it had been.
While Matt thought about riddles, I busied myself looking at this photo taken on the steps of the Kennedy school.
I particularly liked this scowling girl, and her cheery companion with the white bow.
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.)
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.
For Matt’s birthday we visited Han Oak and partook of their very delicious tasting menu.
For appetizers we had the kimchi plate, curried potato salad and the seaweed and greens. We picked the chicken wings and the onomiyaki for the snack and had dumplings. Also the smoked hanger stake and the pork bo ssam. Plus the dessert.
While we didn’t love the dessert (we reestablished that neither of us like mochi, or meringue) the rest was incredibly delicious.
Plus, they were playing hair metal ballads the entire time, much to my delight.
It’s our seventeenth anniversary and to celebrate, we had a delicious meal at Navarre. The restaurant was deserted, as it was a glorious warm spring day and everyone else was probably hiking or some other outdoorsy Portland thing.
Due to the full staff and the lack of other customers, our food came fast. While we ate dinner we traded off asking questions of our favorite memories. Examples: favorite vacation we’ve taken/ favorite wedding we’ve attended/ favorite thing about our house, etc. It turned out to be a pretty fun game.
We forgot to take a picture in the restaurant, so here we are by the car.
Matt visited his brother in Indianapolis earlier this month. He sent me pictures of him standing in front of a bullseye painted on wood next to a hatchet wedged deep into the wood.
“What is this?” I asked him
“Ax throwing,” he replied. “It’s a thing here.”
“I’m surprised we don’t have that thing here,” I typed
Turned out, we did.
We threw axes at Jack Axe, which is located in the Tiki Family Fun Center in Gresham. We arrived 20 minutes early as requested, heard the safety information and the lesson and then were set loose on the range with four other people.
Our four other people turned out to be great fun, inventing different ways to throw an ax (on one foot; with your eyes closed!) and providing challenges such as affixing a $5 bill to the target. It made our 60 minutes go by quickly.
I was able to hit the target several times. It’s a very satisfying sensation when the ax sticks. Jack Axe wets down the wood, though, so I’m not sure I would have such good results out in the wild.
At $20 per person for 60 minutes, this wasn’t fun enough to meet that high money threshold, but I enjoyed myself and am glad to have done it.
The Northwest Classical Theatre Company has taken its last bow in Portland and I miss it. So when I received an email that one of the players from the NWCTC was starting a new company and would preforming David Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow, I made a note to buy tickets.
And we did! And here we are back at the Shoebox Theater, which is now the home of Theatre Vertigo. They’ve taken down the costumes which used to hang from the ceiling and done a few things different with the lighting and the painting, but otherwise it’s still the same cozy place.
I had forgotten that when you walk into the theater there are usually some newbies who gasp and exclaim at how tiny the theater is. That was fun to experience again.
Speed-the-Plow was a great play! It was made better by the fact that when it started, it was trending in a direction of me not liking it. Two guys talking about the amazing deal they were going to make on a movie is not my favorite thing. But things kept shifting and I felt like I had the rug pulled out from under me several times.
Jason Maniccia and Danny Bruno were great as Gould and Fox and Briana Ratterman was also very good as Karen.* Don Alder directed.
Matt and I had a lot to chew on as we drove home from the theater, which is always the mark of a good play. Hopefully we will see another production by Asylum Theater soon.
Fun audience moment: the music playing before the play started included “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” by U2 from their Rattle and Hum album. I was signing along quietly and noticed that the woman sitting on the other side of Matt was also singing along quietly.
*Fun fact: Madonna played Karen when the play debuted in 1988. Also fun fact: the revival of this play was supposed to star Jeremy Piven, but he begged off claiming Mercury poisoning due to eating too much sushi.