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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!

Floods Just Part Of The Off-Season OCF Experience

Oregon Country Fair

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.

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

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.

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

"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.

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

“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.

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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