It seems like most people have strong opinions about the Oregon Country Fair. In the short time I’ve lived in Eugene, I’ve heard so many stories – some good, some bad, but all of them strange. I had to find out for myself what it was like. My girlfriend and I decided to go on Friday, hoping to beat the crowd. We tried our best to leave any preconceived expectations at home. We decided to take the bus from Valley River Center, which turned out to be wonderful. I could feel the excitement in the air and everyone was smiling (and it was air conditioned – yessssss).
When the bus pulled into the fairgrounds, it felt like we crossed over into Oz. There were costumes for every occasion, people skipping around, and warm greetings from everyone. I was surprised to see that they were checking bags and that it was an alcohol- and drug-free event. This was good to hear seeing the number of children around, though I was slightly disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy a Ninkasi or GoodLife (responsibly) while I walked around the fair.
We were both so surprised by the size of the grounds, the quality of the structures, and the amount of effort put into the décor. I felt like I was in a fantasy story and half expected to bump into Willow or Gandalf around every corner. Since it was our first time there and we didn’t know what to look for, we decided the best thing to do was systematically walk through every path on the map. This proved to be very difficult because we were both so distracted by everything along the way.
Our favorite activity – by far – was the people watching. The costumes were beautiful and exciting, and everyone seemed so comfortable and included. The kids were having a blast. The music and performances were awesome. The art was fantastic, both in the shops and on display. Our only complaints were the heat and the crowd. There was plenty of shade, which was very nice. We ended up spending most of our time there in one or two areas, which meant that we missed out on so much more. There just wasn’t enough time in the day. I feel like we could go all three days every year, and find something new and exciting every time.
When it was time to leave, we were jealous because we knew that some people got to stay overnight. I can only imagine how magical and fun it would be to camp there. Maybe we’ll be able to snag camping tickets next year.