Eugene Weekly : Oregon Country Fair 2010 : 7.8.2010


Oregon Country Fair 2010

Fair History, Family History A smattering of stories of the real people behind the magic

Music, Spoken Word, Juggling  . . . A doctor with a clown costume, plus a whole lot more

Fair Process Behind the scenes of the fairyland

Pedal Power The OCF greens up even more

Missing Kevin at the Fair Longtime Fair backer remembered

Pedal Power
The OCF greens up even more
by Shannon Finnell

Kesey Stage will feature a biker bar at this year’s Oregon Country Fair. But instead of leather-clad outlaws with hogs, this bar hosts bicyclists pedaling to power the stage with their own energy.

The system used at the OCF belongs to the UO Bike Program. At last year’s bike fair, the band The Ginger Ninjas struck a chord with the staff at the Outdoor Program. Trip Coordinator Dave Villalobos recalls being inspired. “It really hit home with me to see that,” Villalobos says, “the crowd taking turns powering the electric needs by using the bicycles.”

Soon, the Outdoor Program applied for and received grants from the UO Student Sustainability Fund, Lane County Tourism and EWEB. They purchased the Biker Bar, a 3’ x 8’ trailer that attaches up to three bikes to a generator. The generator converts their mechanical energy to electricity, which an inverter converts to usable AC power.

In addition to the biker bar, the Outdoor Program has two Mundo bicycles, which have 15-inch electric-generating hubs. In total, up to five volunteers (three with their own bikes) from the audience can work on powering Kesey Stage at any time.

“This electricity generation from bicycles is nothing new,” says Villalobos. “I remember these little generators that flip on the side of the tire that run the bike lights and turn signals.” Rather than a brand new technology, bike power simply seems to be underutilized.

The Biker Bar set-up premiered at the Willamette Valley Music Festival in May, where it provided electricity for acts like the Cunning Linguists after an alternative system broke down. A representative of the OCF Energy Park attended the music festival and invited the Outdoor Program to power Kesey Stage.

While the bike-generated power system has already proved that it works, a mechanic from the Outdoor Program will be around in case of technical problems, and the Kesey Stage has a solar power system that can be accessed if the bike power doesn’t work or if volunteers get tired of pedaling. 

Still, past experience indicates that the bike-powered music will resonate without a hitch, and the all audience members are invited to participate. Villalobos likes the idea of bikers riding to the Fair and using their own bikes to power the event. “It’s a community element where people are bringing the party,” he says.

The Outdoor Program is hosting two information sessions about bicycle-generated electricity: Saturday and Sunday at 11:15 am, at Kesey Stage. Staff will demonstrate how the equipment works, answer questions and discuss how the concept might be integrated into other areas.