Saturday at the Oregon Country Fair


Another bohemian institution celebrating its thirtieth anniversary, the Oregon Country Fair staggers the imagination with its sheer size and diversity of events, services, merchandise, and visitors. Blessedly, nearly all of it takes place in the shade, in a forest on the OCF's own land near Veneta, north of Eugene. OCF is a 501(c)3 not for profit, dedicated to educating about alternative lifestyles and ecology. Everyone I met who was involved with the fair says the organization is riddled with hierarchical madness. Certainly the rules are plentiful and the security staff stern. Nonetheless, they put on a great party.

First stop: save Corky the Orca from life imprisonment at Anheiser/Busch Sea Life Park
in San Diego. The speakers above the windshield broadcast mornful whale songs.


Next stop: I join Mark on guitar and TJ (who I met at Wheeler
Ranch thirty years ago) on recorder at the tea house by the main gate.


I paused for a Tofu Tia (tofu sauteed with chili sauce in a flour tortilla
with a green salad on the side) at the Tofu Palace, where three
accoustic musicians performed in the dining area.


Lo and behold, there at the Tofu Palace is Karin, complete with
Mr. Spock ears, on the Fire Crew of the fair for the weekend
with her friend Michael. What are the chances of running into
your close friend at a fair with twenty thousand people present?


Karin and I go off to find the booth where our
fellow Wheeler Ranch alumna Bryce Gray is
displaying his paintings and marimbas. Along
the path, a stained glass altar in the woods.


Lovely sounds emanate from the harp-guitar
played by its maker, Mickey Fisher of Berkeley


This gorgeous costumed celebrant
caught Karin's attention


A giant puppet worn by a man on stilts
is the creation of Newman & Moresco, Maskmakers,
the same people who created Karin's leather Spock ears.


The roof of the Commedia Maskmakers booth


Newman the Maskmaker himself, taking an ice
cream break while surrounded by masks and customers.


At last we find Bryce Gray, making wonderful sounds with two other members of
his marimba ensemble on instruments he made from hardwoods he milled from fallen trees.
He's the one in the hat. The man on the end is playing Bryce's homemade vibraphone.


A better shot of Bryce.
There's a drawing of him with one of
his early homemade instruments in Living
On The Earth
on page 104.
Behind him is one of his
magnificent watercolors.


Bryce's portable battery-powered vibraphone


I asked this beautiful digeridoo player if he would
allow me to photograph him, and he obliged.


A banner hanging over one walkway


The Drum Tower: Twelve drummers drumming, eleven pipers piping,
ten lords a-leaping, nine ladies dancing...
Impossible to convey the kinetic energy of this scene in a photograph.


A peach tree, awaiting tree-huggers.
There were plenty of takers.


One of dozens of recycling centers at the fair


Eagle-headed roof of a fair information booth


A dixie band escorts merrymakers as they leave at the end of the day


Digeridoo trio at a booth selling these beautifully
carved specimens.


The security staff bids us all a fond adieu
(This means YOU, buddy). On Saturdays,
after the visitors leave, the staff, exhibitors and performers
have a huge all-night party, with all of the musicians playing.