My first Fair was in 1985, and there have been many changes over the last twenty-four years. I remember before the fair owned their site, before the water system, before wristbands and capped attendance. I worked Security for years, at the main entrance from midnight to six. I met Bill there one year; coming through the entrance he sold me a fibula and the story of my life turned, again. There were several years where I worked both my security shift and helped with selling jewelry during the day (sleep, what sleep, I'll sleep when I'm dead), and several more years (after I gave up my Security volunteering) when I was Bill's "lovely lady assistant". Our paths diverged, I juried my own artwork in, and on two different years tried to sell my enamels, but for the last few years since I moved to Acorn Cottage have chosen to stay home in July.
Thanks to a fortuitous combination of circumstances, I had the opportunity to return to Oregon Country Fair this year (the 40 year celebration)...
carved melon at one of the fruit salad booths
I arrived on site on Thursday afternoon, and after a not very long wait to check in and get "banded" (the wristbands this year were the kind of changeable design that shifts as you tilt it) I found my friends inside the Fair. Bill and Ariadne brought Ceilidh (Karen's niece) with them this year; she is 11, and it was her first Fair. I really enjoyed having her as a tent-roommate, and that I got to spend a lot of my time that weekend hanging out with her. 11 is a little too young to just be turned loose at Fair, and so in answering her questions, I got to see the site, and the sights, as if new.
winged clockworks stilt-walker
ferrocement and mosaic mushroom sculpture outside the Ritz Sauna and Bath-house
Friday night, she and Ariadne went to the the Carmina Burana fire opera show, I was just too tired, after helping Bill put the cart and stock away, I went back to camp and fell asleep. I don't have quite the stamina and resilience I did twenty-odd years ago, they have been some odd years indeed. I think I had more time to chat with folks and friends at Fair than at most SCA events, and I even found time to take a handcraft class at the Archaeology/Native skills booth, where I learned how to weave a bark basket from stirps of willow bark. I love basketry, though it is very hard on the hands and wrists, there is something so very primal and satisfying to me about it, every time I have done any basketry, it is as though my hands know they have done this before, in some other life...
On Sunday the skies opened, with thunder and lightning and a frogstrangling downpour. All day on and off rain made moving from one part of the Fair to another quite challenging. Six inches of rain turned silty fair pathways to sticky slippy mud, and the low ground into mud-wallows.
an appropriate song for Sunday
By Monday the rain had stopped, so tents were dry-ish for tear-down. The roads were so muddy that all gear needed packed out to the truck by handcarts. We stopped on the way home for a rejuvenating soak at Onsen, before the long drive back to resume our regularly scheduled lives...