Family Field Trip: Oregon Country Fair

People’s opinions on the Oregon Country Fair vary wildly. Some think it’s a load of fun, others call it a wildly inappropriate hippiefest. Yet everyone I talked to casually in the days leading up to it asked me if I was going.

My answer: Yep! And we’re taking all the kids. 🙂

And then I go on a bit about how some people seem to be vehemently opposed to it that the question asker becomes quite clear on how I feel, so cannot say anything negative without embarrassment. Such social suaveness.

Bus to Oregon Country Fair

We’ve never taken all the kids at once to the Country Fair. Last year we were in France (a decent alternative), the year before we took Emma but Duncan and Berry were at their Dad’s. The year before that I took Duncan and Berry, but no one else wanted to go with me. And Sam has never been.

So at 10:30 on Friday, we hopped in the minivan for a short jaunt downtown to find a parking space, then walked to the bus station to enjoy waiting in line. It’s good practice for the rest of the fair experience.

Eventually we got a bus with sitting room and boarded, the little kids choosing the weird accordion middle section, much to my dismay. No one heeded my pleas for normal seats that didn’t swing around at every corner, so I told Adam he’d have the honor of holding my vomit when I puked from motion sickness. (Again with the social smoothness, eh?)

The ride to the fair was, however, uneventful. The kids read books. I worked on a new bag pattern. Adam chatted to us and checked Reddit.


We arrived in good humor and made our way into the Fair proper, stopping by the giant bubble making man to slather everyone in sun block.

I needed to pee right away, thanks to the three cups of tea I’d had to prep me for the day. So I wandered off to find a restroom area while Adam and the kids hung out in Energy Park doing cool stuff.

I never found out what they got up to as, by the time I’d returned after finding an awesome former co-worker in Community Village, we realized we were all starving and needed to quickly scavenge for food. Or wait in line at multiple booths.

First we fed Duncan a bagel with cream cheese at the nearby Blintz place. Easy. No wait. Then I left Emma and Adam in line at an Indian place to get noodles while Berry and I went off to look for food for us. Nothing looked promising. Easy, bland kids food and gluten-free food (bland not necessary) seemed hard to come by, but we did manage to dance with the dragon as it came by. So I returned Berry and ventured forth with Sam.

We got a little lost. Went straight instead of turning left. But we ended up at the Bangkok Grill which, while it didn’t have gluten-free food, did have Pad Thai (more noodles) and Thai Iced Tea. So that was Sam sorted. And I got another tea in me.

Pizza at the Oregon Country FairBack to home base, where the rest of the gang had found seats and were chowing noodles, Berry sharing a bit of Adam’s plate. Berry and I wandered off to get strawberry lemonade for those without beverages and then we all continued on, my stomach growling.

Fortuitously, we found a pizza stand in our continued explorations and fed little Berry boo a slice of pepperoni pie. And, as we looked for somewhere for her to eat it, Lo! A Taco stand.

I realize I can be a pain to feed. And when my blood sugar level gets low, it doesn’t make it easier (to be polite about myself). I had chowed a bar thingy earlier that I kept handy in my purse, but that had long been used up.

So I’ve learned to spot certain foods that are probably going to be OK. Some places just aren’t, at least not in a fair situation: pizza, pasta, etc. A Taco place that offers corn tacos — that could work.

And it did. Having an extremely nice, helpful, pleasant server didn’t hurt. I ask a lot of questions: Do you fry the corn tacos in the same oil you fry wheat tacos? OK, so that won’t work. Can you wipe off the grill before you put my taco on it, please? OK, cool. Thanks.

I don’t enjoy getting sick from eating gluten and I’ve learned the hard way that a little bit can do a lot of damage.

Eventually, we all got fed. And, at this point, we were pretty tired.

But we wandered around a bit more, enjoying a fire making demonstration and the kids petted a bear skin in Archeology Park. Bear skin rug

Adam then steered us to the Daredevil Vaudeville Stage (I think) where a show was about to start. I wasn’t sure about the show, but I wanted to sit down, and we couldn’t just stand there in everyone’s way.

So we sat. And a couple of aviator clowns started their act. It was funny. But then they pulled out the balloons.

I have a history with balloons. It began when I was a teenager, blowing up helium balloons at a one-off gig to get a place ready for New Year’s Eve. I was surrounded by balloons. Hundreds of balloons. In the tropics. So sometimes they popped. I never knew when it was going to be.

It was hot and claustrophobic, that room filled with randomly popping balloons. It stayed with me. The thought still makes me shudder.

So there were clowns performing excellence tricks with balloons (the clowns I have no issues with, at least). And I was tormented. It was probably the most fun I had, laughing at myself and my phobia.

Refreshed from our rest, we trudged onward, trying to find the exit. I stopped the posse for a little pick me up — cinnamon rolls, scones and brownies — and we finally found the exit to the buses.

The ride home somehow seemed shorter, as I worked away on my market bag. We spilled out of the bus in the station, found our car (also a shorter walk on the return) and made it home.

I think I was so tired I made Adam cook dinner (burritos, easy to make and customize for a crowd).

Do I still love the fair? Yes, I think so. It would be easier, perhaps, to go with less people. Maybe one year I’ll have the chance to wander around by myself, spend time with the friend I know will be there, and take my time to look at what’s on offer.

Did the kids enjoy it? I think so. We had the obligatory naked person or two for them to see, of course. But there was so much more than that to capture their attention. I think of it as a (perhaps a bit too crowded) celebration of life and self-expression. I can only imagine the costumes I’d have come up with at another point in my life (or perhaps will in the future…)

There’s not much room for other people’s vitriol in my life, anyway. Don’t like it? Don’t go. But if you do, you never know which like-minded people you might see.