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The Oregon Country Fair Celebrates 35!

The Oregon Country Fair Celebrates its 35th Anniversary taking place on July 9th, 10th and 11th, 2004 in Veneta, OR.
There's really nothing quite like the Oregon Country Fair, as anyone who has attended can attest to. It is an eagerly awaited gathering of heart centered community folks or "family", who come together each year to celebrate spirit, nature, whimsy, deep connection, wild artistic creativity, innovation, invention, education, conservation, humor, eclecticism, child-like wonder and just plain silliness. Last year's fair was blessed with opening ceremonies by visiting Tibetan Monks and Native American Indian drummers. Wherever you go at the fair, there are marvelous and diverse surprises and happenings. It's reputation attracts people from all over the world to be part of this special weekend.

There is richness of activities to engage in and environments to visit. "Energy Park" features the latest in alternative energy technology of solar and wind power, bio-diesel fuel, organic gardening techniques and other energy projects, including bicycle powered blenders and solar showers! "Community Village" is literally and figuratively in the heart of the fair. It exists for gathering and sharing in circle, singing and sufi dancing, hearing community choirs, talks on midwifery, herbal subjects and displays, and information on intentional community living (from urban co-housing in Eugene to forested community live/work situations like Breitenbush Hot Springs). "Chela Mela Meadow" , a relatively new area, invites many activities from being a play-land for juggling and fire dancing, to providing a nurturing, quiet space for meditation, relaxation or a nap under a shady tree by the Long Tom River. "Altered Space" offers a spiritual tribute to all the religions of the world including Tibetan Buddist sand mandalas and an opportunity for fair-goers to create prayer flags. There are fascinating teepees, geodesic domes, yurts, sculptures and other interesting structures throughout the grounds. The "Drum Tower" provides a continuous heartbeat for the fair at the figure eight junction. There are poetry readings, special teen events and art workshops for children.

Numerous stages present terrific world class performing artists and teachers including the FLYING KARAMOZOV BROTHERS, BABY CRAMPS, RAM DAS, Paul Krassner, DARK STAR ORCHESTRA, Jim Paige, Antis the Spoonman, Ina Mae Gaskin and Nicki Scully. The late Ken Kesly appeared often. There are a large variety of entertainers from up and down the coast such as belly dancers, marimba bands, blues, reggae, world beat, irish, country, rock and jazz groups. There are bubble blowers, fire eaters, sword swallowers, wild circus performers and vaudevillians. The "Risk of Change" puppet troupe and the "Fighting Instruments of Karma" Marching Band parade at regular intervals along the paths. Accompanying them at times are walking trees, tutu attired pink flamingos, venus flytrap on stilts, giant rastafarian puppets, the mud people and many other colorful, awe inspiring characters.

Hundreds of artists offer their beautiful and distinctive hand made goods for sale including paintings, fairy wings, puppets, musical instruments, masks, beadwork, clothing, jewelry, herbal products, kaleidoscopes, toys, furniture, candles, pottery, photographs, blown glass, and one of my personal favorites to wear at the fair: fragrant, sumptuous, hand-strung fresh rosebud crowns with intoxicating gardenias. The fair is truly a feast for the senses!

Food served is healthy and delicious from "Tofu Palace" to "Rita's Burritos" to "Lu Lu's Smoothies". Also, there is "Create a Potato", "Dana's" mouthwatering chocolate cheesecake, the "Blintz Booth", "Tibetan Mo-Mos", "Blazing Saddles", the "Indian House" for noodles and the best chai "Chez Rays" (for years, Ray was the personal chef of the GRATEFUL DEAD). "Ruby's" homemade root-beer floats, fresh squeezed orange juice and a myriad of other delectable treats are not to miss!

When you need a break, you can stay a spell at the outside "Ritz Sauna" where one has an opportunity for cleansing, resting, singing and playing music accompanied by a lovely grand piano. The sauna is lovingly designed and maintained by the hardworking, meticulous staff for the ultimate experience.

The Country Fair takes weeks of preparation on-site, and numerous volunteers arrive early to re-construct booths taken by nature during the rainy winter. They prepare the paths, drinking water, sanitation, recycling, security and booth decorations. I have been attending the fair every year since 1980 and I wouldn't dream of missing this rejuvenating opportunity.

In a world becoming increasingly more chaotic and warlike, and with our environment being compromised by exploitation and greed, the shared sincere-consciousness and priorities of the Country Fair folk are grounding points of sanity. This collective sharing reminds us of the values that really matter for a nurturing collective experience which recharges us with hope, courage and inspiration. It invokes us and takes us into action throughout the year in preparing a better and healthier world for the coming generations. Antis the Spoonman wrote a song in tribute to the Oregon Country Fair called the "Essential Event". I couldn't agree more!

I hope that you all can make it to the 35th Anniversary celebration this year. For more information about the 2004 Fair, tickets and local campgrounds, see them on the website at www.oregoncountryfair.org or call (541) 343-4298 in Eugene, OG.

phone: phone: 206.383.8618

OCF is also racist, classist, sexist and homophobic... 04.Jul.2004 23:33

kirsten anderberg kirstena@resist.ca

Although that sugar-coated review of OCF is stuff fairy tales are made of, similar to American policy justifications, the ugly underbelly of OCF remains. I was a contracted performer at OCF for 21 years. I was drafted into 20 midnight shows in a row. I was the only solo woman to ever end the midnight show and I did it more than once, under my performing name Mother Zosima, the radical nun. During my 20 year stint at OCF, I did such things as sledgehammer a bathroom scale on stage while reciting the poem "Fat Grrls Are Dangerous, while naked at 250 pounds, except for a nun's habit and army boots, I was the only fat woman ever pictured naked on a midnight show scarve, I burned my camping pass onstage at midnight show, I was the first performer to write the sign language interpretters INTO the act without their prior knowledge, I announced people should register for OCF membership and vote from midnight show stage in 1990 and for the first time ever in OCF history, the OCF info booths ran out of membership forms on sight on Sunday, and voting membership rose by something like 300% that next election year, I ran for president of OCF on the platform that if I was elected, lesbians could finally sleep their way to the top, I blazed the path for the first women emcees of midnight show, etc. I was the most visible feminist act at OCF for years on end...But I have LEFT OCF for good. I must boycott it due to sexism, racism, classism, and homophobia.

Why would a solid member of the vaudeville performing family (with full passes) for almost 3 decades now just bail on OCF? Because I am sick of its sexist, racist, classist bullshit. That is why. Your first lesson in feminism/sexism at OCF this year is to READ BETWEEN THE LINES ON THE STAGE SCHEDULES. Look at the stage line ups for WCFields Stage. How many male solo acts are there? Now count how many female solo vaudeville acts there are? Likewise, how many of those male solo acts have female helpers whose lines are written by the men? How many of the solo female acts are forced to use sexism and objectified sexuality in their act for stage time? Now how many female solo acts have male "helpers?" Now look at the Stage Left schedule. Again, how many solo male acts, how many female solos? And then do that again for the Daredevil Stage. Without even seeing the line up this year, I can already guarantee it is sexist. How? Because it has BEEN sexist for 20 years before I left. It is not for lack of women solos that the stages in OCF vaudeville are filled with white men.

In 2000, Mildred Hodittle and myself, Mother Zosima, were both hired for OCF as usual. As the only two independent solo vaudeville women acts hired by OCF in 2000 (and for decades prior), we were literally told by the OCF vaudeville coordinator that there was NO ROOM ON ANY VAUD STAGE FOR US ON SATURDAY. Now, on that Sat in 2000, on WCFields stage, we had MALE SOLO ACTS such as Rhys Thomas, Louie Lichtenstein, Charlie Brown, Glenno, (mildred and my peers for decades) REPEATING their shows, while there was NO ROOM for the two solo women to do ONE show, in vaudeville. That year, the only women to step foot on the WCFields stage on Sat were women in the group UMO with men, and these women "helpers" to male acts. Likewise, the DuCaniveaux/Daredevil Stage that Sat was filled with repeating male solo acts, and no solo women, as was the Stage Left stage. Stage Left not only had little - no solo women vaudeville acts in 2000, but its largest act with women is a can-can line. Ugh! How progressive. The day the men have to be in cancan lines for stage space will be something! The message OCF vaudeville stages give women is they can look "good" scantily clad in can can lines or as helpers to male solo acts. That is it. It makes me sick. For YEARS, I worked SO HARD to try and give girls and women at OCF something higher to strive for than can-can lines at the circus, and helper to men status. But OCF is firm in its sexist footing. I used to think that the problem was ignorance and once they learned how sexist their policies were, they would change. But it finally became apparent, that OCF WANTS its women in cancan lines, in lingerie and as male helpers. There is NO ROOM on stages for solo women acts in OCF vaudeville that operate in independence, as in we are not romantic partners with the male heavyweight performers. How would the men benefit from my feminist act? Apparently the men in power at Vaudeville feel it is more advantageous to support VERY thin women who shake their butts, wear lingerie on stage and dance cancans for them, than smart fat funny and educational women, women acts who ask all women to ask the men they sleep with how many kids they have and how they support them and women acts that support women throwing away their diets! Mildred and I had nowhere to perform on Sat 2000 at OCF, but the girlfriends and wives of the FLying Karamoxov Brothers, Rhys THomas, Charlie Brown, Louie Lichtenstein, Chumleigh, and MANY of the male performers did get stage space through the men that saturday and that year, as in other years, and it all became glaringly clear to me that this shit was no accident. The men wanted to control the women performers. That is very very clear. That is why so FEW, if any, lesbian acts make it to the midnight show or OCF vaudeville stages. How would that benefit the men? It would not, so fuck it. Alice Dimicele, for instance, has been a solid lesbian act for years, but she is not in the heavy part of the midnight show, why? She is a lesbian act, I believe in my soul that the reason she is not drafted for midnight show is that she is not of use to the men of vadueville. It is about what titilizes the men WAY MORE than about women and talent. MOST of the women on OCF vaude stages actually never had a stage gig until dating the males who already had acts for them to just latch onto. And the women helpers in the male acts are also ways for the men to show off their prizes, their trophy wives...Mildred and I, by contrast, have had solo gigs prior to OCF and prior to knowing the performer men. We did not need men for our careers.

Back in 1990, I said from the OCF stage that it had been 16 years of all male emcees at Midnight show and I was hoping in the 90's all that would change. I got huge applause for that, and got reamed by the men in charge of midnight show thereafter. THe following year, 1991, in response to me asking for a woman emcee, Paul Magid aka Dmitri Karamazov came out in a dress, and that was our woman emcee for the year. It pissed me off. They say that was comedy, I say it showed how truly afraid of sexual equity they are.

As I watched the performer men fawn over some sexy stripper that OCF male vaudevillians imported from Germany around 2001, to give stage space yet again to women acting sexy more than displaying talent (she bent over backwards and lit a cigarette, great role model for girls, whoopie)...over the acts who invested decades, Mother Zosima and Mildred Hodittle, I saw women's eyes roll, as men were enthralled at the strip tease as a vaudeville act. I was starting to loose my temper.

I finally quit after the so-called "Girl Circus." I had done feminist activism at OCF for two decades and have tons of fan mail saying I changed people's lives. I am especially proud of all the letters from young girls and teens. But in 2001, I believe it was, in response to my complaints, as well as others', re not enough solo women independent of the men in vaudeville, some women who are predominantly married to powerful males in vaudeville, made a "girl circus." The "girl" circus had a theme of all women in lingerie as their group costume. Yeah, I am not an advocate of young girls using lingerie as their logo nor of women having to dress in underwear on stage when men do not do that. I believe that women should not have to dress in sexual attire to perform, men do not dress sexy for us. Certainly I do not see Tom Noddy or Baby Gramps in thongs, or having to dress in lingerie, for stage time. So not only were these grown women calling themselves "Girls" but they were also exposing GIRLS to sexist crap, yet again, this time led by WOMEN! The "girl circus" had a blonde, bone thin wife of a Karamozov Brother coming to the edge of the stage, lifting her skirt and shaking her butt in panties at the audience. Its band leader came out in lingerie and long gloves and led the band in sexy theme music. So, is this a sex act for men to watch named "Girl Circus?" YUCK!!! Cuz it was not empowering as a woman to watch! That was for sure. I would not have let any girl child of mine be in that mess. And as the most visible feminist act at OCF for decades, it is no mystery why I was not asked to join such a sexist act. It made me sick that in trying to get powerful women acts to stage, they once again just used the women the male performer heavyweights have power and control over, the women who are married to the men of power in vaudeville, the women who are willing to put on lingerie and shake their booties to be on OCF stages! I AM NOT OF THAT ILK. I believe women should be allowed on stage for talents other than shaking booty, just like the men.

Your next assignment to reveal OCF's sexism to you is to watch the midnight show lineup. I was in it for 20 years, I know it too well. You will find the BULK of the women performers to be women folk singers. I was always the only female comedy solo except for mildred. The bulk of the women solos will go on before the most active part of the show after the parade arrives. The bulk of women acts that are not sexy for men will go on before 10 or 11 pm. You will notice the last 2 hours of the show will be full of solo male acts. Likewise, the only women you will see on stage at midnight show in the last two hours, will be predominantly scantily clad. And it does not end there. Count how many NONWHITE acts you see at Midnight Show, on these lands that were previously American Indian grounds...

Yes, you can count the number of African-American acts at OCF, and they are SMALL in number. Subtract the reggae groups, and you are left with almost ALL white stage sets. Shady Grove stage is a good place to go see LOTS of white people on stage in a row. When I suggested over and over that OCF do outreach and bring in strong black women singers, gospel groups, and angry young rap groups, people's racism quickly came out. One well-known love fest brother at OCF said we could not bring rap to OCF cuz it would increase violence at the fair!!!! I have heard this type of nonsense over and over now from OCF "family." So if you are black, and do not play reggae, there is nowhere for your act at OCF really, except in token status, just like there is nowhere for your solo vaudeville act if you are a woman at OCF. I have a black woman friend, who is not thin and does not dress like a stripper, who has performed music at OCF for 2+ decades too. She has one of the top 5 voices ever to sing at OCF. Yet she has never been lauded with the privileges the skinny white chicks with little to no talent, who shake their underwear for men on stage get.

There is a class, race and sex hierarchy going on at OCF regarding the vaudeville and Shady Grove stages. You only have to go look at these stages to see what I am saying is true. This last year, a new coordinator took over OCF vaudeville books and he noted what I have said for 20 years, the women were paid very differently than the men were for decades now.

I am sick of being told there is no room on OCF stages for independent, strong, feminist, educational and comedic repitoires, yet there is endless room for women in lingerie in can can lines on those same stages...I am tired of the women who sleep with the powerful men in vaudeville getting perks that outweigh the solo women who WORKED their way to the top of their genre.

I can no longer support the white, patriarchal world of OCF. As a performer, I tried to get away from the sexist crap in vaudeville by offering a different talent to OCF. I offered to help make the OCF Fair Family News better with content. I sent three monthly columns full of performer interviews, fair family history, info on where to take kids at fair, where to buy large women sizes at booths, toilet etiquette at fair, etc. Instead of printing my columns, the Fair Family news instead put out an ad for someone to do performer interviews, and fair related articles for the paper!! I wrote back and said, "but I sent you columns on JUST THAT and you do not use them." I got no explanation. I offered to quit trying to integrate the OCF vaude stages with actual feminist acts, or women who refuse to be a sex act for stage time, and tried to move to the Fair Family News and website maintenance as something I could contribute to that may be less sexist at OCF after investing enough years now to qualify for the elder status passes once I turn 50...but even though I am a published writer in Utne, ZMag/Net, Alternet.org, Infoshop.org, Alternative Press Review, Antiwar.com, Informationclearinghouse, Resist.ca, Slingshot Zine, Mexico Magazine, and many many more places, once again, I was not good enough for the OCF writing crew...

So, apparently there is no place for me at OCF if not a helper to a male act, if not scantily clad, if not in a cancan line, and I would rather just skip the whole thing. I finally gave up on midnight show as there is no stopping the sexism in that show. It is a MALEFEST. A WHITE MALE FEST. Please note that almost every woman, IF NOT EVERY WOMAN, to step foot on the OCF midnight show stage and vaudeville stages will be THIN, when most women are not thin. And the fatter women acts will be in the beginning of the show, not the end. You will notice that most women who step onto midnight show stage will be YOUNGER, as in 10+ years younger, than the men. If you knew the women in midnight show's last 2 hours, you will also find that almost every single one of them came from middle-upper class homes. Few "poor" women make it onto stage at OCF, that is why few, if any, of the acts other than mine at midnight show ever talked about issues of poverty. You will notice that most women on midnight show stage will have a sexual nature to their cloting. You will notice very few men have this sexual element to their clothing unless mocking it as women's dress, such as men in tutus, etc. Notice how ALL the acts make heterosexuality the norm. I just cannot do OCF in good conscience anymore. When I was a female at midnight show with a small child from 1984-1990, I was the ONLY person backstage with a child. ALL MEN acts made NO KIDS backstage. Women took care of their kids. But there I was, year after year, as the ONLY person backstage with my baby. Because I was one of the only solo woman acts there. Kat Wildfire, another solo woman act in OCF history, then had a kid, and her and I shared childcare backstage as we were two solo women acts in a sea of male acts and women helpers and cancan "dancers." It was telling to me that as I stood backstage with men who ALL had kids, such as Artis the Spoonman, Moz Wright, Karamazov Brothers, DuCaniveaux members, such as PKDwyer and Dave Conant, etc., I was the ONLY one with my kid backstage for years. It has changed now as it is now more kid friendly but back in the 1980's I was breaking ground by BRINGING my BABY to backstage at midnight show, unlike all the men who had women to take care of their kids. I even brought males in on my camping passes AS babysitters, but they threw fits and said they refused to be relegated to "babysitter" during midnight show so even when I had male partners, I still ended up with the kid backstage at midnight show...

I also cannot watch one more young girl without her top on photographed by one more gross old man to jack off to later. And it is rarely older women with sagging breasts or fat women who are topless, nor are they ever PHOTOGRAPHED topless, it is ALWAYS thin, young women photographed and there is a reason for that too. They get ALOT of attention for no tops on if thin and young. You do not get treated the same if topless and older with sagging breasts or as a fat woman. Which says a lot to me about why the men are giving energy to topless young thin women. How many midnight show scarves have had some topless thin woman who is not even a performer on them? GROSS. How many topless chicks are pictured on the internet from OCF as a titilation for men...and the women act oblivious, but really now! I just cannot watch dumb girls be sexually exploited by dirty old loser men at OCF any longer.

The fair is a mess in my opinion. It is held on sacred ground to American Indians which is also a problem. There are a TON of problems with OCF's white Patriarchal festival. I boycott it personally. Its pretty packaging no longer works for me. And I was there for 20+ years. I know of what I speak. I find the fair stages to be too white to be entertaining, and I cannot watch even one more woman shake her booty from stage while talented women sit it out on the sidelines.

Kirsten Anderberg aka Mother Zosima
OCF Contracted Performer 1983-2001

Mother Zosima with naked signers, midnight show 2001
Mother Zosima with naked signers, midnight show 2001
Mother Z at OCF with Backup Boys, Vivian McPeak, Larry Steiner, and Jay Hogan
Mother Z at OCF with Backup Boys, Vivian McPeak, Larry Steiner, and Jay Hogan
Mother Zosima, with trio Raw Sugar in 1982 at Pike Place Market in Seattle
Mother Zosima, with trio Raw Sugar in 1982 at Pike Place Market in Seattle

wow! 17.Jul.2004 01:22

sean the sean

a hippie event in oregon was too white? where do you think you are? also, the racist, sexist, homophobic calling out thing is ludicrous, pick your enemies more wisely!

what about Laura Kelly?? 10.Mar.2006 15:39

a female ocf veteran (not in entertainment, tho)

I'm sorry you gave up on us, Mother Zosima; we need thorns sometimes. But I see progress: we DO have rappers these days, and most often on the Spoken Word stages -- we value them for their perspective, intelligence, writing skill and all-out-ballsiness (and that includes the women). Laura Piece Kelley has been here a few times now. Isn't she a female? and a radical rapper feminist? Luke WarmWater, a native-American poet from Eugene performed last year. And Letellier has been involved in mural projects. We are trying to import some color to the pale northwest, and hear more female voices. But it's true that in a HUGE volunteer fair, some people run their fiefdom with little input from outside. You have to be a part of it, and bitch about problems, to have an effect -- even if it feels like nothing is changing very fast. Maybe you had more impact than you think.... I do think some people only hear volume and venom, instead of your content, tho.

And I *really* miss your Zosima act.

too little too late 27.Mar.2006 04:50

mother z/ kirsten anderberg

I have actually begun performing again (summer 2006) and have started hanging out with SOME of my OCF performer clan again...but let me tell you, UNTIL THE MALE PERFORMERS ARE FORCED INTO CAN CAN LINES ON STAGES FOR PASSES, I shall not return to OCF. Until the "Girl Circus" quits trying to SEXUALIZE LITTLE GIRLS by using LINGERIE as the LOGO for a "girl" circus, I shall not return. Until you can see AS MANY SOLO WOMEN ON THE VAUDE STAGES AT WCFields, Daredevil, etc., as MALE SOLOS, I shall not return. Until there are as many women emcees at midnight show as men, until there are as many solo women acts in midnight show as men, until Mildred Hodittle is treated like a GOD, I shall not return...You cannot say because you can maybe name one or two of these women or rap anomalies at OCF, that we have reached the destination and I played OCF for over 20 SOLID YEARS, along with playing Midnight Show for 20 SOLID years as well...the FKaramazovs, Artis, Page, etc all took breaks. I did not. I came every single year. And I hit a glass ceiling my male peers did not. And I hit it over and over again too. So I left. I am clean and sober three years from that mess at OCF.

If you are a solo woman performer in vaude at OCF, even if you are in the upper eschalons as I am, it still SUCKS as the MEN get a thousand times the opportunities that I do, simply by being male. And all the women around me are playing Step N Fetchit for the men performers for their passes for doing nothing but being in a fuckin can can line, and it is gross. I am supposed to put on lingerie, fishnets, and heels and act like that is feminism, twirling in my underwear for the men's titilation, calling myself a "feminist aerialist," oh PLEASE! That is not even "gymnastics," come on! Twirling in your underwear on a lowered hula hoop just is not something men lower themselves to, sorry. Instead the men walk on swords, eat fire, juggle, etc.

If all of that VERY VERY hard work I did meant something and something changed, then I will be looking for my apology from OCF in the mail shortly. Look, I asked NICELY for what, the first 15 years??? Wasn't that enough? I just started SCREAMING the last 5 years, as asking nicely did NOTHING. And just so you get it, OCF is NOT all volunteer. Not by any stretch. For one, I was always paid as a performer, as were all my peers. That is not volunteering. And the general manager is paid over $10,000 a year, etc. so you should go look at the budgets put out by the Board sometime. Check out how many thousands of dollars they spend on SODA POP FOR MAIN CAMP!!! LOL!

I miss OCF very much, but it seems stuck in a ditch and I could not push it out. Again, when I go to the circus and see all MALES in a can can line, every show, and not women, and men sexualized in a way that is NOT satiric, the way they want the women, as if that sexist crap is serious or sexy, that is the day I will consider returning. When men are displayed on circus and daredevil stages as sex objects in a serious manner day in and day out, maybe they will finally get it. As will their dumbassed wives who fuel this crap for their little passes. (I would ban all wives and girlfriends from acts unless they DID SOMETHING THAT TOOK SKILL if I had my way at OCF. Standing around scantily clad, doing nothing, is NOT a skill or an act that ANY male performer I know would do on stage, yet I can name over 50 women who do that shit, and ONLY that shit, as their ONLY ACT, for passes at OCF for DECADES now.) Also, did you know that the OCF board BUYS and GIVES the circus their props? What is up with that shit? The year they did those stupid big 6 foot bananas with the scanitly clad women act, the fair actually BOUGHT those people those BIG BANANA PROPS and I am still pissed off they were buying expensive props for rich kids who were flown to Paris for circus school, and still suck, yet we hardworking buskers, etc were never offered one cent for OUR props, costumes, etc. so there is some kind of weird funnelling of money from the OCF board to the circus stage in a way none of the rest of us got access to. I mean, I could do A LOT with a 6 foot banana! So you sleep with a Karamazov, and you get a nice expensive big prop for free. You work your ass off as a solo feminist performer for decades and you buy every single prop yourself. I am sick of that shit.

As Chumleigh says, "Who says we are not making slow progress?"

And without even being there or knowing, I will already bet you $100 there is not a one woman who has come out to take my place as cutting edge feminist satirist headliner there...and I can tell you EXACTLY WHY THAT IS.