Oregon Country Fair

July 11th, 2005  |  Published in old and busted

We packed up and headed for the Oregon Country Fair with Michael and Sue this weekend.

I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but I think it was something perhaps a little less … dense. Dense with people, dense with stuff, dense with stuff going on. It wasn’t a bad time at all, but it got pretty crazy a few times, if the crowd grew in whatever area we were in.

So how to describe it?

I guess if you took a big wooded area, put a bunch of booths in it, carved a few meadows out of it, dropped a bunch of Portland Saturday Market vendors in the booths, then turned a hippie costume ball loose in the midst of it, you’d have most of it.

But you also have stuff like puppet shows where the kids are told that peak oil is coming and if they don’t invest in alternative energy sources, they’re fucked. Parades break out spontaneously. There are a more people on stilts per capita than most other places on the planet. You smell a lot of sage, a lot of pot, and a lot of really, really good food. I had the best Pad Thai of my life there. One guy held an audience for two hours, explaining how it is that if you shine a perfectly green light on perfectly red cloth in a very dark closet, the cloth will look black, as well as what an ecliptic is. I ate some homemade fudge that made my head swim it was so rich. I saw a lot of painted boobies and a few unpainted boobies. $12 devil horns were the number one accessory for square normals looking to get into the spirit. There was a lot more: hula-hooping flautist girls, bongo-playing little boys, vaudeville acts with people dressed up like chickens laying gigantic balloon eggs, a piece of performance art I simply couldn’t fathom, but which involved a giant metal contraption that gyrated, drum circles, juggling clinics, a giant straw nest for parents and kids to lounge in, a procession of people in multi-colored robes and white facepaint who said nothing, but merely walked through the crowd in stately silence,

There was a lot of music, too. We walked into the fair to the sound of a digeridoo accompanying a hippie chanteuse crooning “Do you wanna?” over and over, then periodically feeding it into some digital looper and crooning something else over the top of that. They were competing with the capoeira circle a few feet away. Guitarists, a marching band with several sousaphones, and Mad Tea Party from Asheville, NC, which I stopped to watch for a little while because they had lovely harmonies and great presence. I ordered a disc once I got home as my sole non-photographic souvenir. Ed might enjoy a few of their samples: There’s a ukulele in there somewhere.

We got Ben a new carrier off of Craig’s List. My guess was that a stroller at the fair would sort of suck, and lo it would have. Ben’s old carrier, though, was built for little kids (sub-25 pounds). Ben’s gotten a lot bigger, and the last time I tried to carry him in his old one the suspension wasn’t up to stabilizing him when he shifted around. The “new” one was made by Kelty and cost, well, a lot more when it was brand new. It did a great job. I was able to carry Ben around all afternoon (about five hours total) with just a few breaks and readjustments. Ben seemed comfortable, too. Not a single squawk the entire time, even when we got separated from everyone else.

By the time the day was over, we were pretty ready to go. Ben was getting heavy, and we found ourselves walking by the same places (easy to do when everything’s on a big figure 8 path).

We drove from the fair site to Florence, where we got a room for the night at the Villa West Motel. I don’t know what the place’s official motto is, but its motto in my mind will forever be “What we lack in dirt-free pillow cases, we make up for in cellophane-wrapped ice buckets.”

This morning Ben wasn’t able to deal with being in the same room as Al & I, so he woke up at 4, chilled out for a bit, but was up and around by 6. I loaded him in the car while Al slept, and we drove up to Heceta Head to walk around and watch the surfer clan that had camped on the beach the night before.

For the moment, since I’m goofing around with Flickr, you can see the photos in my Oregon Country Fair set there (where there’s also a fancy slideshow option. At some point I’ll upload a batch to the real gallery.

And at some point I might have more to say about the whole thing. For the moment, though, it’s late and I’m feeling sort of washed out and sleepy. So I’m wrapping up.

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