Every year since 1969 tens of thousands of people have collected in the woods outside Eugene, Oregon for the annual summer festival called simply, the Oregon Country Fair. Long before the 21st century American Tribal Revival marked by large-scale festival events such as Burning Man and the prevalence of days-long music festivals like Coachella and Bannaroo the Oregon Country Fair was bringing together an incredible array of music, performance, theatrics, arts, and crafts. After more than forty years the fair has proven it's ability to survive growing pains and shift with changing times, or even generations, without losing the heart of what it is, a backwoods festival run by hippies who just want to be left alone with their inner children for a few days out of the year. And oh yeah, they want to make some money too.
For as much as there is that is good about the fair, it is important to realize that it is a business first and foremost. There are booths that make a substantial amount of their annual income in the three days of the fair, and there is good reason that change is so slow in coming; you have to wait your turn to get a booth at the fair, and time is the only currency that works. I have mixed feelings about the commerce of the fair, not that it is any better or worse than any other event, but that it sells itself as so. There is an air of hippie elitism that at one time may have been appropriate but now just reeks of snobbery and pretension. The truth is, there is no way to scale back an event such as the Oregon Country Fair, so the only real thing to do is let it grow too big and cumbersome and commercial and played out, and it will mellow itself out in the end. In the meantime, would you like to purchase a hand made ceramic coffee mug for twenty bucks?
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