Floods Just Part Of The Off-Season OCF Experience

Jul 12, 2018

Fun fact about the Oregon Country Fair – through a good part of the year, the site is underwater.  Often, things are pretty dry by the time the first fairgoer walks through the entrance.  KLCC’s Brian Bull asked one of the fair officials about how the event handles this recurring natural disaster, including those unusual fences.

Partially-flooded Dragon at OCF, winter 2012.
Credit Oregon Country Fair

OCF's Creamery Booth in the winter of 2012.
Credit Oregon Country Fair

As vendors set up their booths earlier this week, many took stock of their site’s condition. Heavy rains or rising waters of the Long Tom River – often both – have contributed to the fair site being submerged through winter and early spring.  Sometimes it’s just a few inches, but other areas can see depths of five feet or greater.

“We do operate on a flood plain here.”

Jessica Metteer is a backup manager for the Oregon Country Fair.  She says construction guidelines help make sure the best and proper wood is used to protect against rot and mold.  And many booths and stands are designed to keep floodwaters flowing, as opposed to creating large standing pools or makeshift currents that can increase erosion.

“You can see a booth from where we are now, where the booth structure itself is built up on pier blocks. So it’s not tied to the ground," explains Metteer.

Dig those wavy fences. But their design is more than just a trippy style gimmick.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

"And panels and things come away, like our fences, as you come to the Fair,  you’ll see a lot of the fences have sort of  a wave pattern cut about halfway up in the panels, those bottom panels are taken up after the event is over, screwed to the top panels, so that the water can flow right through.

"We’re not creating any channeling or directional flow that would scoop out the ground and create pathways that would be harder to restore afterwards.”

Metteer adds the Oregon Country Fair also has a construction crew and an archaeology crew, that collaborate to make sure all structures and development are safe and healthy for the land.

This Dragon's basking in the summer heat, dry as a bone.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

“And as things do deteriorate, they’re replaced, that’s why you see a lot of new art and new structures coming in when you come back every year.”

So whether it’s floodwaters or new fencing, there’s an ebb and flow that fair crew have learned to work with.

Copyright 2018, KLCC.