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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

 

Live and Let Learn

Fair classes for everyone

By Inka Bajandas

Sitting back and enjoying the performances at the Oregon Country Fair is great, but learning how to make a bone tool, juggle or try a traditional dance from Zimbabwe just might be even better. 

For all those fairgoers who are ready to stop watching and start learning new things, here is a sampling of the many workshops and lessons going on throughout the OCF.

Photo: Dennis Wiancko

Stuart Celarier, who teaches juggling at Reed College, joins other expert and professional jugglers to teach juggling all day long at Chela Mela Meadow in the Yes You Canopy to anyone who is willing. “There are a lot of things at the Fair where you just watch, and the opportunity to do something is magical,” he says. 

Newbies can learn the basics, of course, but those who already know how to juggle three balls and want to learn new tricks — perhaps something they saw somewhere and have always wanted to try — are also welcome, says Celarier. Along with juggling balls, participants are invited to experiment with clubs and other toys related to juggling — which Celarier defines widely as manipulating objects, such as lassos, in unexpected ways.

The great thing about him and other jugglers being available all day long and on all the days of the Fair, Celarier says, is that people can come one day and then come back the next day with a fresh perspective. The juggling teachers also have a lot of repeat customers from year to year. “The first couple of years, there was a little shock and amazement that this is free and you can just come up and start juggling,” he says. 

Also in Chela Mela Meadow are yoga classes in the Dharma Garden at noon, 2 pm and 4 pm, taught by six different yoga teachers.

In Ark Park, primitive technologist Tamara Wilder and others will give demonstrations and workshops related to ancient crafts. Wilder teaches bone tool making and beadmaking techniques. Learning about these ancient crafts, she says, is a way to understand the common heritage everyone shares of being hunter-gatherers. “It links you back to your past. There’s something very grounding about that.” For the bone tool-making workshop, she demonstrates, with the help of workshop participants, how to make a tool out of an elk leg bone for cutting flesh off animal hide. 

An even more hands-on activity is making stone and pine nut beads. The stone beads are made by drilling holes into soapstone, a very soft stone, using bamboo sticks that participants spin between their hands. 

Wilder teaches bone tool making at 3 pm on Friday and 2 pm Sunday. The beadmaking goes on all weekend. Other demonstrations and workshops at Ark Park include basket making and hide tanning (which is much easier once that bone tool has scraped the hide).

Community Village hosts the most workshops throughout each day of the Fair. In just one example, Wanda Walker teaches an African song, dance and percussion workshop in the Yurt of Community Village. Attendees to her workshop will learn mhande, a type of dance and rhythm from Zimbabwe. She’ll teach the basic rhythm, some lines of a song and a dance. The class is a great opportunity for her students to learn about the people of Zimbabwe, Walker says, with an added bonus: “It is such a fun rhythm that they can enjoy and take with them and spread the music with their friends.” Walker’s African workshop takes place in the Yurt at 4:30 pm on Saturday and at 11 am on Sunday. Other song-and dance-related workshops include dances of universal peace in the Village Green at 1 pm all three days and instant songwriting for causes in the Yurt at 2 pm on Saturday.

The Community Village Arts Booth holds art-related workshops such as Japanese paper marbling at 2 pm on Friday and Saturday or making a miniature fairy at 4 pm on Friday and 1 pm Saturday. 

Various other informational workshops are also going on at Community Village, like the plant walk at the Wild Edibles Booth at 1 pm each day, an introduction to therapeutic touch in the Yurt at 3 pm on Friday and asserting relationship boundaries, also in the Yurt at 5 pm on Saturday.  

On the Gypsy Caravan, stage belly dancer Aziza teaches belly dance lessons at noon all three days.

Energy Park has various hands-on demonstrations going on related to sustainability. Oregon Tilth, a nonprofit organization supporting biologically sound agriculture, holds a worm composting workshop on the Energy Park stage at 1:15 pm on Sunday.  

Finally, LiveArt!, located at the Blue Moon Plaza, has plenty of art activities for all ages, such as creating a page in the OCF ’08 group art book. In the Kid’s Loop, more art will be going on with the help of artist Francisco Letelier along with hula hoop demonstrations and lessons from performer Amy Hatfield.  

With all these workshops, fairgoers can go home afterward with more than souvenirs from the craft booths — they can return to their lives with a renewed sense of balance, a new skill with lassos or clubs and, of course, soapstone beads strung on a nicely tanned piece of elk skin around their necks. 

 

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