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KLCC reporters are gathering stories for the 2018 Oregon Country Fair. Reports will appear on this page.Do you and a friend have a Fair story to share? Stop by the KLCC booth on Friday July 13 between 11 am and 2 pm and we will record your story. "Fair Shares" will appear on this page after the Fair!

Mosquitoes, Bumblebees, And Fallen Trees Don't Discourage OCF Stalwarts

Johan J. Ingles Le-Nobel

Visitors to the Oregon Country Fair might want to bring along bug spray as well as sunscreen.  Lane County’s mosquito population has more than doubled due to recent, mild weather…and the bloodthirsty skeeters have no qualms about crashing the event. KLCC’s Brian Bull reports.

Earlier this week, I followed fair back-up manager Jessica Metteer around the grounds.  The shade was alive with hovering vampires.

“Little bit of a sort of a mosquitoey spot here as you move from Xavanadu into our Chela Mela Meadow,” she says, waving away the bugs. “Best to stay in the sun,” she laughs.

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Visitors and vendors navigate the shady - but mosquito infested -- parts of the OCF site last Tuesday.

Lane County officials have seen a strong uptick in mosquitoes compared to past years. Of chief concern is the possibility of transmittable scourges like the Zika and West Nile viruses.  Metteer is optimistic that come fair time, the pests will be of little consequence.

Metteer: “There are a few mosquitoes here before the Fair, once the public arrives, they generally sort of work themselves out!” (laughs)

Bull: “You have one right there on your upper cheek.  There you go.” 

Metteer: “Thank you.”

The idea being that the mosquitoes at the fairgrounds will have already sated themselves on fair staff and vendors, and will be too full to bother many of the estimated 45,000 visitors over the weekend.

A few hundred yards away, Joe Schattler is rebuilding the booth for fantasy dreams, a children’s costume business. A cloud of mosquitoes surrounds him, but Schattler claims not to be bothered.

Bull: “Joe, how are you not minding the thousands of mosquitoes around us?”

Schattler: “I’m Native American, for some reason mosquitoes don’t like me! (LAUGHS)  So, hope that answers that question okay! They just kinda land on me and go yuk! (LAUGHS)

For disclosure’s sake, I’m also Native American, and apparently tastier. Already both of my arms have nearly a dozen bites, and the mosquitoes are also biting me right through my shirt.

Meanwhile, another vendor, Paul Crabtree, isn’t so much complaining about the mosquitoes.  He’s another bug issue to resolve before he can finish putting up his stand, Colorburst studios.

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Paul Crabtree, vendor and operator of Colorburst Studios, waiting for a bumblee nest and fallen tree to be taken from his site.

“Just unloaded everything, but we can’t set anything up until we get rid of the bumblebees,” laments Crabtree. “Bumblebees have a nest, right there where those bumblebees are swarming around (LAUGHS) We have a bee crew that’ll come and take care of it.”

That’s on top of the site crew that’s coming to remove a fallen tree from Crabtree’s space as well.  But he’s upbeat and certainly not one to back away from bugs or branches.  Crabtree says this is his 41st year with the fair, and he tells everyone to come on out.

Copyright 2018, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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