Sunday, July 10, 2011

oregon, my oregon!

is there anything more western oregon than the country fair?

and i mean that in the complete sense. i don't just mean: oh, look at the hippies! i mean is anything more completely and truly western oregon than the country fair?

sure, there's hippies. the last of the few and the proud, leathery skin, wrinkles, grey hair - they are there, there's no doubt.

but there's also sorority girls in bikinis. little yuppie kids with berets and DIY, portlandia-type tattooed parents. middle-aged women with no bras and/or shirts at all. rubber-necking professors. wranglers and cowboy hats. wagons festooned with UO paraphernalia. punks and goths and frat boys and suburban wives.

yet the whole thing is so damn orderly. it's so...oregon. it's no burning man. it's no rainbow gathering. it's clearly based in a set place, it's all about the cash money exchanging hands, it's covered with volunteers. they guide your car in narrow rows and paths to an exact parking spot. everything is laid out and marked - from where your silverware goes to be washed and reused to your food scraps (for compost), glass, and other things. and yet, not completely orderly. it's not draconian state trooper style. it's a...flexible orderliness. as we were leaving, a giant SUV was sneaking in to park in an area designated for a specific group. "aw, just for five minutes", the driver wheedled the parking attendant. "i don't want to get in trouble" she said. "want a cigarette?" the driver asked hopefully. "yeah, i would like a cigarette," said the attendant, easily bought. she accepted the proffered smoke. "ok, but only for five minutes."

the country fair. it's a lovely time, and i love it, for all its surreal nature. everyone is smiling. really. everyone. from the tutu-clad volunteers, standing in the blazing sun for hours directing traffic, wishing everyone a cheery 'enjoy the fair!', to all the other fair-goers, dressed in their best, fairy skirts and lingerie pulled out from the closets, clothes dispensed with, faces painted, smiles on, everything beautiful and magical. even the timbers army put in an appearance and made thier presence known. see, this is oregon, where weird sports loyalty trumps hippie identity.

and, there's bordello-dressed kazoo-playing can-can dancing stiltwalkers. i mean, what more can you want in life?


  1. i've always wondered if there is a 'country fair' - type society that goes on year round somewhere in western oregon and the founders only let everyone else in on it a few days a year every summer.