The Oregon Country Fair, a long-standing Oregon event, marks its upcoming 50th year with an Oregon Heritage Tradition designation by the Oregon Heritage Commission.
Other Oregon Heritage Traditions include the Oregon State Fair, Medford’s Pear Blossom Festival, the Pendleton Round-Up, and the Woodburn Fiesta Mexicana.
“The designation recognizes those traditions that have helped define the character of the state,” said Todd Kepple, the commission’s chair. “The Oregon Country Fair helps us celebrate Oregon’s counter culture, deeply rooted in the cultural and political movements of the 1960s and 70s.”
The Oregon Country Fair began in 1969 as a fundraiser for an alternative school. In 1970 the Fair relocated to its current site in Veneta, and in 1982 the OCF board of directors established a nonprofit organization. Over the years the Oregon Country Fair became a popular festival attended by tens of thousands of people annually, but still remains connected to its philanthropic history by raising and distributing funds to the community.
Today the Oregon Country Fair continues to serve as a marketplace for an alternative hand-made economy, a “trade-show” of alternative energy and sustainable practices, and a networking opportunity for people interested in living alternative lifestyles and social justice. With over 300 juried craft booths, 50 food booths, 20 stages of varying sizes, and a variety of educational and artistic opportunities, the public is invited to participate and create.
“What sets the Fair apart from other events is the degree of ownership and autonomy the volunteers have, the feeling of being an alternative to mainstream society, and a fantastic array of artistic and performance disciplines,” said Fair representatives. “Often people take what they have learned or felt from their Country Fair experience back to their own communities.”
The Oregon Country Fair wouldn’t be possible without countless volunteer crews who maintain the Fair’s site and run the event. The event adds to the impact of heritage tourism in Oregon and is estimated to generate $3 million a day for Lane County’s economy. Data from 2018 shows tickets were sold in all 50 states as well as multiple international locations.
The Oregon Country Fair will be held July 12, 13 & 14, 2019. More information can be found at: www.oregoncountryfair.org. The Heritage Commission will present the designation on Saturday, June 8 at the Lane County Museum in conjunction with the exhibit opening of “Fifty Years of the Oregon Country Fair.”
An Oregon Heritage Tradition must have been in continuous operation for more than 50 years, demonstrate a public profile and reputation that distinguishes it from more routine events, and add to the livability and identity of the state. A list of Tradition designations is available at http://www.oregon.gov/oprd/HCD/OHC/pages/oht.aspx .
The Oregon Heritage Commission coordinates efforts to solve statewide heritage issues through grants, education, and advocacy, and also promotes heritage tourism efforts.