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Eugene Weekly : Coverstory : 7.10.08

 

Oregon Country Fair 2008

Fairest of the Fair Seeing, buying and eating green

Threads on Stilts Costume planning from the Bay Area

Musical Fair The bold, the beautiful, the magic and the moon

Baby on Board Negotiating the Fair in child-friendly ways

Live and Let Learn Fair classes for everyone

 

Baby on Board

Negotiating the Fair in child-friendly ways

By Adrienne Van Der Valk

Parents with the desire to embrace the Oregon Country Fair’s wild ride have some decisions to make and some planning to do. The Fair provides an amazing array of sensory experiences and opportunities for wonderment, but it can also be hot, windy, dusty, buggy, crowded, weird, rainy and smelly (to say nothing of overstimulating). When it comes time to introduce the very young to the very special place that is “the eight,” experienced Fair-mom Elise Crum has some common-sense pointers to share.

Photo: Todd Cooper

“If you can avoid a stroller … ” she says, searching for language strong enough to express her point, “I … I wouldn’t even attempt one. A backpack, a sling, a snuggly: If you can put the kid on your front and the diaper bag on your back, and carry both comfortably, that’s the best.”

Crum, who has taken all three of her children to the Fair as babies, introduced her oldest son to the festivities when he was only 6 weeks old. Over the years, she and her little ones have consistently gravitated toward areas that are off the main loop. The Fair provides a stage devoted exclusively to children’s entertainments as well as a Kids’ Loop with play structures and running room and a Mellow Space for families who might need some quiet time. While these areas are baby- and kid-friendly, supervision is still required and incredibly necessary, according to Crum.

“It is very easy to lose sight of your kid,” she says. Oregon Country Fair staff provide 24-hour lost-child assistance for panic-stricken family members who do get separated, but ideally, little hands stay held. Childcare is available two hours at a time for potty-trained tots, but for the very small, BRING Recycling provides diaper service from Energy Park. Cloth diapers, plastic storage bags and pins will be available, and diapers can be rented or returned during Fair hours.

As with any family outing, preparation can only prevent so much childish angst at the Fair (for adults or babies). Long days plus crowds are likely to equal the occasional meltdown, and ultimately it is up to parents to assess what their wee ones can and can’t handle.

“The Fair is an extremely welcoming family event,” Crum says emphatically. “Kids are being breastfed everywhere. It’s an amazing way to expose your kids to new food and great music and new performers. It’s a really nice place to hang out with your family. But if you have a kid who is easily overstimulated, don’t take them.”

 

Oregon Country Fair 2008

Fairest of the Fair Seeing, buying and eating green

Threads on Stilts Costume planning from the Bay Area

Musical Fair The bold, the beautiful, the magic and the moon

Baby on Board Negotiating the Fair in child-friendly ways

Live and Let Learn Fair classes for everyone