Monday, July 11, 2011

Oregon Country Fair!! ...and other stuff.

After class on Thursday I rode over to The Whittaker area of Eugene..the artsy hip side 'o town. I had a 4 o'clock one-on-one interview with the art-maker who's gallery show I attended last week. I had decided to do a feature piece on her and I am so glad that I did, the interview went great! It was fun to just ask her all about her art background, methods and what inspires her. We talked for more than two hours and I got a wealth of notes to work with. It was nice because we really got to a comfortable space where she was really open in speaking about many fascinating parts about herself and her work and I felt good with the questions I'd prepared and the whole thing went so smoothly.

Interview is too much fun. We've been doing that a lot this week for our various assignments and just really find out such interesting things about people and their backgrounds. Being able to approach someone and just get their story is something that I somehow can do with confidence when I'm "on the job". I was worried about how I'd do, since my journalism leanings was more focused on the writing with the interview part of the work looming darkly over me. Well it sure isn't looming anymore now that I've taken off the water wings and taken the jump off this crazy world!

That's not to say I won't be getting the dreaded Bad Interview Experience. I just gotta deal with it when it (or many of 'it') comes.

So this weekend has had its interesting spots: let's see, there was the GUH-orges Saturday ride that had a great group. We did 50 miles and I was enjoying feeling much better than I did on the Wednesday ride. I'm making some cool friends and getting really familiar with the regulars so that I feel more part of the group each time. It's nice feeling that community feeling, corny as that sounds!

That evening, Chris and I went down to do interviews on the River Trail for one of our many class assignments. I was pretty exhausted and it seems like the week has compounded the lack of sleep and hard work to result mush for brains. Somehow that was enough to do the interview as Chris worked the camera. We had a good time with it, though, and talked with this one couple who had 7 foster kids! I was pretty impressed, most of the kids they took in were "problem" (translates to badly treated) children. They have their hands full but seem like they're absolutely made for it and, hey, if they're willing in able, more power to them.

So the thing about being mush for brains on Saturday? Well, not having a chance to rest and recuperate made it so that Sunday morning I was absolutely completely MUSH. I met Chris and Damien at the bus station to catch the shuttle for the Oregon Country Fair. Well, Damien was a ball of excited energy. Chris walked up and exuded that very same aura of exhaustion that I'm becoming so familiar with! We bobble-headed onto the shuttle for the 40-ish minutes to Veneta.

The fair is something that anyone who has been to it will tell you that if you're in Oregon when it's on, you absolutely MUST go. No questions, no arguments, just go. So we went.

And let me tell you.

This guy did The Labrinth David Bowie crystal ball hand thing!
If you're ever in Oregon and the Oregon Country Fair is on, GO. It was so freakin' great, I can't even describe so bear with me while I try. We get to the grounds and for the first stretch, all you saw were tents. People from all over come for this thing. I'm telling you.

So it is basically a verdant maze with hand-built wooden booths, of all variety, that are just too charming for words and blend perfectly into the forest-setting. The artistry that is represented is phenomenal and the people watching is Out. Of. This. World.

You've got stilt walking can-can "girls" (the quotes signify that you want to take that term loosely); elaborate, colorful costumes and quite obviously thought-out-specifically-for-the-fair outfits, hats, hair, etc.; beautifully intricate painted bodies with no holds barred on the sparkles; musicians and bands playing at random throughout the area; really the whole thing was stimulation overload but it worked out because it brought me out of my zombie coma.

We wandered, ate yummy food, marveled at the crafts and artwork, and I reveled in staring to my heart's content at anyone and everyone.

Random yoga "room" in the forest.
Our teacher was gracious enough to grant us the permission to "cover" the fair for our news piece this week since Chris and I couldn't find anything in our beat. I ended up interviewing a mandolin-maker, did you know that they call stringed instrument-makers luthiers? Well I didn't and now that's my new favorite word. It has such a beautiful sound to it. His works were similarly beautiful. Check out his time lapse video of making a ukelele on his website!

So my favorite part of the Eugene Country Fair was....storming the drum circle. I'm talking with, probably a hundred something people, a full-blown march across the entire fairgrounds, through the winding maze until we reached the drummers and waged war. For serious!

Well, it all started at the accordion guy's show. Jason Webley played to a huge group of us, all under this huge multi-colored tent. The guy was fantastic, a complete goof and really talented. He asked for recommendations and would burst into whatever song was called out with his accordion and complete enthusiasm. Near the end, he had us all stand up and he threw out the contents of a big huge bag to the crowd: tons of water bottles with beads or rocks in them. He told us he was going to storm the drum circle and show them that the Accordions were number one! So he seriously got everyone all jiggered up and started started a huge parade across the grounds, winding their way through the forest and lines of artist booths chanting for everyone to hear: "You with the drum, you'd better run, the time has come for acoooooor-di-on!" Well, wasn't about to get left behind so I got right in there and took up the chant with Damien, and Chris (daggummit!) who cleverly claimed it for his fair story ran ahead taking pictures. Somehow, all these accordionists appeared out of nowhere and melded into the crowd, playing away as we all marched forward, nothing but energy and good completely off-the-wall goofy fun! We made it to this bridge and there was our first battle, a line of drummers beating overturned buckets with sticks but they were no match for our force nor our volume. We broke through and made it to the drummers, who were ready for us. The accordionists played hard and we cheered them on. Webley climbed up to this crazy treehouse type structure (there were lots of these around btw) and played on and totally keeping us cheering, chanting against our foes. It was pretty incredible, the accordions and the thundering drums and the multitude of bodies. Very much what you would call a rush, yessirrie. Quite an experience, let me tell you.

I think we lost, though. *Sigh* .....But not for lack of spirit!!

PS. If you ever happen to be anywhere within some several hundred miles-or even more for that matter-of the Oregon Country Fair:

Just Go.


  1. That sounds like absodamnlutely the best fun. Kinda like the Renaissance festival I used to go to, only on steroids. Your description made me feel as if I were right there with you. Thank you!

  2. Fun! I agree, your descriptions are it makes me feel closer to you when i hear your day-to-day also makes me tired! love you like a rock...
    yo mama


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