So far, this year feels like a merciful break for the southern, central and eastern Oregon venues wracked by poor air quality in recent seasons. But arts presenters in Klamath and Jackson counties have taken countermeasures as the first big blaze of the year, the Milepost 97 fire near Canyonville, obliged them to modify operations.
The Britt Music and Arts Festival moved a Sunday night concert indoors to North Medford High School's auditorium. A community night concert featuring Terry Riley's minimalist composition "In C," scheduled for Tuesday, has been shifted to a private ballroom, the Bigham Knoll Ballroom.
The Klamath County Fair kicks off this weekend with an anticipated crowd of 32,000 to 42,000 visitors. Fair organizers made plans early to shift outdoor performances with Midland, Jon Wolfe and Lonestar to the indoor venue that usually houses the fair's rodeo. The rodeo, in turn, is moving to the outdoor arena. So far, fair officials say afternoon winds have prevented drifting smoke from posing health hazards.
'Complicated' Milepost 97 Fire Draws Hundreds To Community Meeting
Just down Intertate 5 from the source of the fire, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland migrated Elizabethan Theatre shows inside last Friday, Saturday and Sunday, because of air quality issues. The festival took the precaution of only pre-selling as many tickets as its alternate indoor venue, the Mountain Avenue Theatre, could hold.
The festival's protocols to deal with delays and relocations related to air quality have evolved with several new solutions this season. Wildfire smoke the last two years have devastated OSF's bottom line.
Also, several Green Show performances — the multi-disciplinary free events normally seen on the outdoor plaza, "the Bricks" — had to be cancelled. OSF's C.J. Martinez says the company will consider additional moves this week, depending on which way the wind blows, possibly including an experimental live stream of Green Shows for some nights of the week. Martinez describes the system as an experimental pilot program, selecting certain performances to move indoors, and offering an indoor viewing option for the audience.