I must admit, I have never been to a fair before. Not in my adult life at least. Do you know how many puns there could be used at a fair?
Okay. I know that's not a fair question. But life's not fair.
I have been hearing all about the Oregon Country Fair for the last 3 year now. From what it seemed, the Fair was going to be full of festivities. 20 minutes West of Eugene Oregon is a town called Veneta. This is where the fair has been held since 1970. (The first fair was officially was held in Eugene in 1969 before moving it to Veneta) Approximately 45,000 people flock to the fair each year. The OCF also has been known as the Craft Fair and the Oregon Renaissance Faire back in the early early to late 70's.
Where to stay
If you were working as a vendor, staff, or volunteer there are major perks in this. At the top of the list - The fair doesn't stop at the end of the work day. As someone that is working, you don't get swept out at 7:00 P.M (open hours are from 11 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.), when the official day is over. People who are working get to stay for the night activities, where performers and musicians stay up to entertain the staff. If you wanted to become a fair worker, it's good to have patience, persistence and a connection with the people who have been going for years.
I wasn't on the staff list for this event, so I stood by, hearing all about it. Maybe I'll be able to work my way in next time I hope!
There are much more than a handful of options on where to camp on the outside of the fair. I choose to stay at a campground nearby, called Quiet Camp.
Quiet camp was 15-minute walking distance to the fair. They had showers, their own vendors and a few bands that played a few sets. This was good use of the space, where an open field turned was turned into a campground for the weekend.
Other campgrounds that were further from the fair offered shuttle assistance along with other amenities.
The High Council Band - Playing a set at Quiet Camp
The Fair Experience - Open Hours
I wasn't sure what to expect before heading onto the grounds. There were many people walking or taking a shuttle. On the way over, almost everyone working for the fair, and a handful of others would cheerily say "Happy Fair! This was the greeting, and everyone seemed to be as happy as could be. As if the Fair hadn't come any sooner.
It was nice being at an event where it is both drug and alcohol free. Substitute the beer for kombucha or tea, which causes less yelling and aggression in the crowds (and more energy!). Marijuana is now legal in Oregon, but they still don't want it to be a huge presence at the fair. There are multiple designated smoking areas, on and off the path, but since 1997 there has been a well-founded effort in keeping the fair a drug-free event.
There are vendors everywhere. From handmade crafts to food booths. If I had a pocket full of play money, this is where I'd be spending it. However, hand crafted items can be pricey, so it's best to look around at all the booths before deciding on what to get.
"Come In Costume" - as first advertised 1969. I think everyone has taken that role on. From stilt walkers, to face painters, to performers to attendees. I saw old women who made their own matching costumes, to little babies and their parents all dressed up.
There is a lot of walking around to do, and to be honest - not enough places to relax and rest. Especially after a long day of walking down path after path, and getting lost quickly makes you a bit weary. There are 22 stages to see, to enjoy and watch a show; from music, puppet shows, comedic, slam poetry, spoken word, juggling, acrobatic and daredevil stunts. However, because there are so many stages, they all seem to be on the smaller size scale. So, if you show up at an act a few minutes after it has started, there is a big chance that you will miss the opportunity to rest and sit down or to get out of the sun for some shade.
Overall it seems like the OCF has a huge presence that keeps showing up year after year. There had been people going from the very beginning, who hold the OCF into their peach shaped hearts.