VENETA, Ore. — Piece by piece a group whittles away at a piece of wood that’s slowly but surely turning into a totem pole.
“The story of putting this together is all about all of us you know joining in and working together,” said totem pole designer Brad Bolton.
What started as a project to showcase teamwork and how well everyone at the fair works together, took a quick turn last summer right before construction began.
When four people, who were all involved with the country fair, lost their lives in a plane crash near the fair grounds, the totem pole’s construction found a new purpose.
“It was a tragic time to have this start up about the same time they died so it actually serves two purposes,” Bolton said.
The totem pole wasn’t the only way friends are remembering their loved ones, a group formed a drum circle near the totem pole as part of a memorial to pay their respects.
“So we felt this would be a wonderful way to bring the community together and honor Erin and just rekindle our friendships through what were really tragic circumstances last year,” said drum circle organizer Jessica Sprick.
A larger group formed around the drummers as they performed.
“It was electrifying, I mean I think we could all feel that energy and I could tell that me and the other women in the group were having a bit of a hard time holding it together and not trying to cry and release that emotion,” Sprick said.
To carry on their memory the totem pole will stand tall right where it’s currently being constructed, in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the Oregon Country Fair.
“It’s just very fitting that their spirit will live on through this celebration every year,” Sprick said.
The totem pole construction is expected to wrap up in 2014 and then will be on display at the fair in 2015.