VENETA, Ore. — This weekend a family of nearly 40,000 people will be coming back to what they call home at the Oregon Country Fair.
They come from all over.
“We’re actually scattered to the winds. There are people from Canada, Seattle, San Francisco, and we get together and we work like crazy on all these things,” said Path Planning Committee Member Kirk Shultz.
Among those things are new pieces to the fair, including a special pathway and play area for kids.
“This is a new zone to help support little kids, if they need a break from the crowd,” Shultz said.
But the things are secondary.
“For me who’s done this all my life, doing shows all over, I feel like I’ve found the ultimate expression,” said Back-up Manager Doug Green.
And just to call them Country Fair enthusiasts would be putting it lightly.
For many, it’s a way of life. Some have been part of the family for more than 20 years.
“We really do call ourselves family, and when they get here we greet with ‘welcome home’,” Shultz said.
They say each year brings a new adventure and challenge.
“This year we had five floods, a 10-inch snow, trees fell, fences going off down the Long Tom River,” Shultz said.
The recent plane crash that killed four young members near the fairgrounds produced another challenge and hit the tight-knit group especially hard.
“We were in a moment of emotional chaos. So we were able to turn this energy around, recognize that this is also an opportunity for us to dedicate our energies to those that we’ve lost during the year,” Green said.
And those special energies keep buzzing away.
If you’re coming home this weekend or visiting the fair for the first time, it runs Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.