The Oregon Country Fair (OCF) has been held annually for almost 40 years. It began as a Renaissance Festival and has evolved into an astounding gathering, run entirely by volunteers through a nonprofit corporation. OCF’s mission is to provide an experience that nourishes the spirit, explores living artfully and authentically. And to come together in community to celebrate life in magical, joyous and healthy ways.
Tens of thousands of people attend the Fair, which is always held outside Eugene, the first weekend after the Fourth of July. Volunteers do the PR, logistics, security, medical care, recycling garbage, healthcare, entertainment, speakers, crafts, they are collectively called the Family. It is the OCF Family that provides the vision and energy that fills the Fairgrounds day and night.
Every year, my family gathers at the Fair. Wife, daughters, son-in-law’s, nieces, nephews, brothers and sisters. We camp in the Crafts Lot, in a tight circle of tipi’s, campers and tents, around a central fireplace. Everybody works, and entertains, and when night falls, we emerge into our Country Fair personas. Our troupe has acquired some risqué names, but generally we are known as, The Pinky Sisters and the Truth Fairy. We dress in pink, the girls are vaudeville Burlesque dancers, the boys are bouncers and announcers, I am a giant fairy, with tights, tutu, wig and slippers. A combination stand-up improv comic and clairvoyant, whose name is The Truth Fairy.
Kids try to stump the Truth Fairy, do I know if they are telling me the truth, “Oh, yes”, I assure them, “try me”. Adults will ask a 6’6” fairy anything, things they might have wanted to ask before but been afraid to ask. Sometimes, something I say stuns them, like a bolt of lightning, with a new awareness. The right time, place and people, and they see something in a new light. I’m not sure how it happens, but I do know that at Fair, I allow myself to channel my intuition without conscious interruptions. A spontaneous, unconscious flow between me and them.
There are lots of families here, our friends, the “Blintzes”, are a 3 generation blended familiy that number almost 40. Some have been married and divorced from each other, others remarried bringing their new spouses and extended families. They camp together, work together and parade together. They get along well, because nobody wants to give up their family passes to the Fair. An OCF Family Pass, is a legacy as valuable as, season tickets on the 50 yd. line to Nebraska home games. People finish their business if they want to share the Fair experience. With a community so diverse, and living so close together, is intense so you have to close-knit living so intense, you have to settle stuff in order to feel joy and the healing power of community. Every year, in full costume, we do our late-night show in front of their booth, and it’s hysterical, raunchy, and draws a large crowd.
I leave Fair I feeling inspired, filld with hope for the world. Then I come home to read about the terror in London, and I feel my paranoid shell begin to cover me. I want to run away; my kids tell me there are festivals like this all over the country; “why not get an RV, get comfortable, ride the circuit, you’re the Truth Fairy”. I’m thinking about it.