If there’s one unspoken commandment of the Oregon Country Fair, it might be “express yourself.”
From colorful flowing costumes to body paint to drum circles to art displays, the 44-year-old fair is Oregonians’ annual opportunity to gather and revel in an eclectic mix of art, food, music and colorful characters.
At this year’s festival, held in a wooded area in Veneta, Oregon, earlier this month, puppeteers on stilts and bands of painted people walked the trails. Palm readers and circus acts performed in the nooks of dusty roads calling people to gather. Music, poetry and performance filled the air from the 19 stages scattered around the fairgrounds. At the main stage, multiple generations could be seen dancing to old town blues music with their hands in the air and heads tilted back, laughing.
Lucy Kingsley has attended the fair since the first one in 1969, held as a fundraiser for the Children’s Community School. She told Think Out Loud’s Dave Miller that the unique sense of acceptance and community she has found at the fair keeps her coming back year after year.
“The fair is a place you feel like you have to come home to,” said Kingsley, “like salmon returning to the sea.”
Think Out Loud visited the fair on opening day and recorded a live program from the fairgrounds. Listen to the full program.