Thursday, August 10, 2017

OCF 2017 and Hopefully More


I tell my family it’s the “Naked Hippy Festival”, but it’s so much more than that.  Yes there are many exposed body parts and body types of every variety, but it’s more than a nudist experiment.  Teeming multitudes of volunteers work for months before, during, and after the event, taking care of everything from security to trash collection, intake and construction, and firing the cauldron that heats the gloriously hot water at the Ritz (where everyone is naked on a freshly re-built wooden floor under an open sky).  There is a genuine concern for the land where the event is held, attendance to its archaeological heritage and the environmental impact of tens of thousands of tromping dazedly all over and camping within it.  It is an amazing feat.  At night, when the paying guests have been “swept” from the grounds, a whole other faire begins under the twinkling lights reflected on the the trees and dangling disco balls.  There are nearly as many people at night , a population made up solely of volunteers, vendors and faire workers of every sort.  There are spontaneous pockets of music and darkness appropriate wear.  I felt like the belle-of-the-ball with my LED outlined jacket.
     This was our 5th time, which, according to the rule book, means we are eligible for a permanent spot.  I've been all over the faire under the One-Year-Only (1YO) butterfly.  This time we were in the newest section, Xavanadu, which boasts a massive oak tree, glowing jellyfish lights and a phoenix at night.  Once I got over trying to call it Xanadu, with its disco associations (and I find it more than appropriate that when I googled Xanadu, it quickly led me here: which exemplifies the spontaneous expression of joy and art that reflects the OCF experience), I've declared it my favorite spot.  We had about 1/2 the traffic, but there was room to stretch (literally: a yoga tent out front), a tree house, and the grass hasn't been turned to dust like it has on the eight.   I missed the parades, but hopefully they'll start to trickle down there.
    Which brings me to THE PETITION.  Namely, I would like anyone who would like to kibitz in on my behalf, to see me permanently at the Faire, to send me an email, or even mail me one if you hate computers, so I can add your input to my petition.  As it is, I apply each year for the floating available spots, or share a spot with someone (thank you Colin of Liotta Designs!)  One of the more interesting, and challenging aspects of this event is the extent of sharing.  If you receive the honor of a booth assignment, you have to share it with another juried artist.  At all the other shows I attend, I get my 10x10 easy-up tent space and fill it with my own things and chat with the neighbors about tying ourselves together against wind or getting each other snacks.  But at the Oregon Country Fair, you have to negotiate with structures that have been flooded many times, moss, roses, natural obstacles, uneven everything, and truly chaos in every form.  And then you have to divide up the space amicably so that we can all sell and live and pack peaceably together: an idealistic microcosm.  And I would like to make it my July home.  Even if you've never been, if I've wooed you with my story to explore the Faire for the first time, please fill out my petition and tell them so.  It's a truly amazing event!  Hope to see you there next year!

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