Oregon Country Fair

The Oregon Country Fair has earned its reputation for the best summer people watching in Oregon (or anywhere) , and continues to earn its Thumbs Up rating…

We finally got around to trying it once our kids were almost grown.  We were sorry we waited so long, because now too many people have discovered it – as in, “who invited all these tacky people?”  I mean seriously, guys in white baseball caps and white nylon baggy shorts and white Nikes at the OCF?  Ew.  But we know why they’re there, and it isn’t the jugglers.

If you don’t count Burning Man, which has nearly out-hippied this Ultimate Hippie Festival, this is as good as it gets on the Left Coast.  And Burning Man is … well, Burning.  Really hot desert.  (And I don’t like the “Man” bit – what?  Women aren’t hot?)  From all reports, it’s too hot.  It’s too Too as near as one can tell from the Facebook posts of one’s neices and the verbal reports of one’s aging hippie neighbors.

OCF, on the other hand, is partially shaded.  You could easily be in Sherwood Forest, a part of the cast of Robin Hood On Medical Marijuana (just wait, the musical can’t be far behind).  Just sunny enough for a slight sunburn to brag about back at work on Monday.  A bit of nudity (the euphism is body painting), some good entertainment, parades every few hours, happy parking lot attendants wearing fairy wings and/or fishnet tights  (where else in the world does that happen?), the occasional dirty old man selling photos from years past, it’s all good fun.  The Down Side is that they don’t sell alcohol.  Footdang.  Well, not to the public.  Not during “business hours”.  I have it on good authority that alcohol is the least of what happens after hours, but hey – it’s private property, a private party, what happens at OCF stays at OCF… in a strange multi-generational kind of way.    Family Values re-defined.  I’m sure Ken Kesey would turn over in his grave if he knew they were checking backpacks at the gate for guns, drugs, alchohol, and snakes.  Yep, snakes.

Sketching at such a venue is the ultimate challenge.  You have to bring a folding chair – there aren’t enough hay bales to sit on.  This was the virgin voyage of my walking stick/three-legged chair – it’s a chair when you want to sketch, it’s a cane when you want to play the Cranky Middle-Aged card and get a better view.  Or trip one of those guys in the white baseball caps.  No one stands still for more than 30 seconds, so all of your cast of characters are made up of multiple people.  Probably a good thing.  Some very-tattooed guy came up and asked to borrow a pencil – when I said I only had colored pencils, he said, “That’s cool,” and without further ado he slipped my best magenta Prismacolor out of my pencil case and off he went.  I mentally put it on my shopping list, but in a few minutes, he brought it back with many thanks.  Nice.  OCF is fun, it’s silly, it’s just a little bit over the top.  I’m hoping that lots of people will stay away next year so I can sketch without being bumped constantly.