Saturday, July 17, 2010

Oregon Country Fair and Being Eugene

Today I realized that I am living the Eugene stereotype. We went to a teddy bear picnic (good times!) and met up with some friends who met up with some friends who were visiting from the bustling metropolis of Portland (city slickers!) and as I watched my long haired boys frolic around (Sawyer was in tie-dye) to a very Eugene-looking band (long hair, bad jeans) and explained that my husband was working at the Farmer's Market and that we'd just been to the Country Fair, it hit me like a ton of tofu that I am So. Very. Eugene. (My apologies for overusing parentheses in that last sentence.) (ha ha.)

And to think that I spent all of that energy and time during my teenage years trying to distance myself from my parents. Just look at me today. I could rent us all out as your get-to-know-Eugene-family. Out-of-towners could come to our house, I'd serve up some Nancy's yogurt and then we'd all go hike the butte or something. Yep, I am pretty sure that we fit your Eugene family stereotype to a T. Except that we don't smoke pot.

Which apparently is a stereotype about the Oregon Country Fair. In fact somebody recently wrote a letter to the editor about how the Fair isn't for children, what with the rampant drug pushers and lecherous scoundrels lurking about just waiting for the next unsuspecting child to fall victim to the old drugs-in-the-cookies-now-you're-an-addict scam. (Sorry about all of the hyphens here- I'll try to curtail that.)

I laughed when I read that letter, having just been at the Fair and also having attended many Fairs in the past, but I guess that really is what some people think it's all about. People often seem surprised that I go or that I would take my kids and wonder what there is to do. I always find myself at a loss for words when I try to explain what draws me to haul a day's worth of water and sunscreen and kid gear out to Veneta after shelling out $20 for a ticket (!!) and arranging a ride and planning to meet up with people and... well, you get the point. But there's just something about being at the Fair. I can't explain it. Either you get it or you don't. Jack clearly gets it.

Maybe it's the fact that you get to dress up. Maybe it's getting your face painted. Maybe it's the music or the pirates, or the elves, or the blue people on stilts, or the parades, or the food, maybe it's the old friends that come out of the woodwork at this time every year, maybe it's the happiness that pervades the place. I don't know, but I do know this: kids believe in magic and Jack saw some that day.

People come to the Fair to reconnect with the whimsical side of human nature that's often smothered by our daily lives. People come to wear their fairy wings or their devil horns and to adorn their bodies to create whatever alter ego must be hidden during the 9-5 work week. People come to show their kids that sometimes adults like to act silly and that it's okay to be yourself, no matter how weird you are. I love that.

(And we saw no drug users or pushers. Nobody offered us any cookies, drugged or non.)

And I guess that's what I like about living in Eugene. There are no false pretenses. There's no keeping up with the Joneses. In Eugene you just are who you are and you let people be who they want to be.

So yeah, I guess I fit that stereotype. And I'm totally okay with that.


  1. :D I TOTALLY think you are Eugene personified and I LOVE you for it! It makes me happy. A little piece of home encapsulated in a blog for my homesickness relief. Cute girl. I AM rather amazed you take/took Jack there but as I've never been, my amazement is based solely on rumor. I'm glad you had a good time. Sounds wonderful. I like this picture of you with the bandana on your head holding Jack. Something about it reminds me very much of your mom. :) Beautiful.

  2. You totally look like your mom in that pic of you and jack. Makes me miss home and the good old days!