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The forecast for Oregon Country Fair includes a definite chance of breasts — different shapes, sizes and protruding from bodies of all kinds.

This year, however, we’re getting down to business about boobs. Katelyn Carey, author of the recently published Beauty After Breast Cancer, is giving a talk about this increasingly common milestone for women.

Survey Oregon Country Fair 2016’s music schedule and find African blues rock 'n' roll with Portland’s Dusu Mali Band (featuring Ibrahim Kelly, nephew of legendary Mali blues guitarist Ali Farka Toure) as well as homegrown indie rock from Eugene’s Ferns (featuring world-class guitar work from Jake Pavlak, like a red-bearded mix of Johnny Marr of The Smiths and Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath. Unconfirmed rumor has it Ferns are on hiatus after this show, so don’t miss 'em!) 

Looking back over his first year as general manager (GM) for the Oregon Country Fair, Tom Gannon says the thing that’s surprised him the most is “how incredibly important ice is.” 

It might sound strange, but realize that the frosty lemonade you’re enjoying, or that tasty burrito with extra sour cream, or your gluten-free hemp seed salad with extra hemp seeds, were all made off the grid. No one operating a food booth has a fridge to plug in — there are no plugs.

I really do not understand Oregon Country Fair.

I’ve read the FAQ page, spoken with a handful of Fair-goers and have gotten the scoop on staying overnight. It’s been several years since I’ve moved to Eugene and yet the mystery of Fair remains: What’s the big deal?

The endless parade of the Oregon Country Fair

An ambient performer

To start a fire

Like sunburns and fannypacks, vaudeville-style comedy and variety shows are a part of the Oregon Country Fair experience. In fact, OCF devotes entire stages to all sorts of popular entertainment from the age of daguerreotypes like tap dancing, puppetry and poetry readings.

As you’re cruising around the loops at the Oregon Country Fair, be sure to stop by the new Dance Pavilion, featuring movement performances and workshops for all.  

“The dance space is for the exploration of dance and the movement arts,” says volunteer site coordinator Shawn Kahl. 

The Dance Pavilion stage and an adjacent outdoor studio, the “WorkIt Shop,” have concurrent but separate programming throughout the weekend. Both areas welcome and encourage participation.

If you’ve come for the Oregon Country Fair (July 8-10), the Oregon Bach Festival (June 23-July 10) or the 2016 U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials (July 1-10), welcome to the Eug. If you already live here, well, welcome to some bigger crowds around town than we might be used to and a reminder that we live in a pretty nice place.

In no particular order, the following locales are highly recommended places to grab a bite to eat or plunk down for a microbrew.

Rick Levin

 et al.

Every good city needs a strong, vibrant public space, and Kesey Square — located in the heart of downtown Eugene at Broadway and Willamette — is ground zero for the open interaction of a metropolis and its community. On any given day, the red brick plaza of Kesey Square (named for its iconic statue of legendary local author Ken Kesey) is bustling with food carts, street musicians and folks just passing through, from local business people to shoppers to skateboarding youth.

Tired of sitting around and watching other people run (or standing and screaming for them, as the case may be)? Want to meditate on the joys of J.S. Bach among Oregon’s greenery? Lane County is not lacking in places close in or a little way out of town to take a summer walk on a break from town.

Journey was pregnant when she was dumped at a high-kill shelter in California. Eugene-based Luvable Dog Rescue saved her just hours before she was due to be euthanized, together with her unborn puppies. 

Months later and miles from that crowded shelter, Journey and her puppies have been living at Luvable’s dog haven in the south hills and have had their portraits done wearing crowns of flowers by famed photographer Sophie Gamand. 

Gamand and Luvable’s executive director, Liesl Wilhardt, hope that Gamand’s soft and sweet portraits will help maligned pit bulls like Journey find their forever homes through the magic of the photos and social media. Gamand made a trip to Eugene in June to photograph the dogs of Luvable. 

Eugene painter Ellen Gabehart’s home is far from a Martha Stewart-esque suburban rambler stocked with Ikea purchases. Gabehart has art covering every inch of her cozy space, furniture included. She reminds me to check the art in the bathroom before we sit down in her studio.

Gabehart strikes me as the epitome of a Eugene artist with a history of activist work, community building and a mix of both trippy and political art pieces. 

“Realism with impressionism,” she says of her style. “I’m not photographic, but you’ll recognize my works.”

The current Republican front-runner has vowed, if elected president, he will build a wall along America’s southern border, claiming its construction would be done at Mexico’s expense.

Donald Trump has accused Mexico of “sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us.”

The presumptive Republican nominee also accused a community that makes up 12.5 percent of Oregon’s population and 17.4 percent of the nation’s population of “bringing drugs” in his 2015 presidential announcement speech. “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson inspires millions, not with hype and bravado, but with intergalactic levels of cool. 

Through Tyson’s work as an astrophysicist, author, museum director, television and radio host, even the most novice among us can imagine the birth of stars; we can envision dwarf planets and ponder the very structures that define our home, the Milky Way. 

Simply put, he makes science accessible and fun. 

And local audiences will have a chance to see Tyson in person, when “Neil deGrasse Tyson: An Astrophysicist Goes To The Movies” lights up the Hult Center 7:30 pm Thursday, June 16.

Our summer kicks off in the most perfect way possible — a visit from astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson on June 16. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, folks. We’ve worked hard to make sure these pages are chockfull of all the best, most summery activities imaginable. Food festivals, hikes, arts, swimming, bike rides, movies: Let’s just say we’ve got you covered for the next four months. 

 

Wet Hot Art-merican Summer
EW's top summer picks for the visual arts

Coming To America
Copa América soccer

The Tastes of Summer
Eat, drink and be merry with new food-centric gatherings

Local soccer fans will be spoiled this summer with several Lane United FC matches at the Willamalane Center as well as the July 24 International Champions Cup match between Paris Saint-Germain and F.C. Internazionale Milano, to be played in Autzen Stadium.

And yet, if Eugene soccer fans are as passionate about the beautiful game as I am, they might be most excited about the Copa América, to be hosted in the U.S. for the first time in its long and influential history, with the closest matches being played in Seattle and Santa Clara, California.

The tastes of summer beckon — this year, two brand-new foodie shindigs splash onto the scene. Look forward to a season’s worth of eating, drinking and living it up. And the best part is, you don’t even have to trek to Portland.

Many head for the hills, beaches, mountains and rivers to bask in what is the Great Oregon Summer. Others run for their paints, chalks, clays, sewing machines and cameras to capture the spirit of summer. Or dive into exhibits in museums and galleries (mmm, air conditioning). Summer in Oregon is  prime time to explore the arts, from Springfield to Coos Bay to Portland. Here are EW’s top summer picks for the arts.

This story begins with a simple request for information. Before long, it veers into murky waters about freedom of information and the public trust, and potential violations of both in Eugene and statewide. 

The story ends in a snarl of unfortunate answers with, perhaps, a shard of hope.

Little did we know that one narrow request would end with a tumble down the rabbit hole into the absurd world of public records law in Oregon, leaving us with the question: Do you, as a citizen in a democracy, have the right to know?

May in the Willamette Valley is a sight to behold — newly green trees burst with life; the waves of spring flowers make a splashy rainbow of our town; sunlight sets the river dazzling. Even the rain seems a little less oppressive with the promise of intermittent glimpses of sun.

Breathe a collective sigh of happiness, Oregon. These are the good months. 

That’s why EW’s annual outdoors issue touches on different ways you can enjoy nature, from walking in local parks and jogging on forest trails to surfing the river. It’s all there waiting for you, so grab a friend and explore. That computer screen can wait a little longer.

 

Journey to the Sea
The dream of a trail from Corvallis to the coast

A Day in the Park
Eugene volunteer Becky Riley works for chemical-free parks

To the Trails
Run Hub Northwest brings running to the forest

Surf's up
Elijah Mack shares the latest news in river surfing

The Broad Outdoors
Local writer Ruby McConnell pens a handy outdoor guide for women, but men should take a look, too

House on the River
Eugene’s River House celebrates 50 years

On a blazing hot spring afternoon, Becky Riley lifts her foot in the air and stomps it against her shovel, grabbing a pile of dirt with her gloved hands as she gently combs through a sea of soil, wriggling with earthworms. 

Riley stands in the middle of a mowed, grass walkway at the north end of Rasor Park off River Road, where she’s getting ready to go head-to-head with a legion of poison oak plants. The 58-year-old has spent the past two years of her life removing poison oak by hand from the grassy field as an alternative to chemical spray. 

Ah, Eugene, “a great city for the arts and outdoors,” especially if you have the right gear, training and financial means to actually get down and dirty in the area’s natural wonders.

One factor for enjoying the outdoors is having access in the first place. The Eugene Rec Outdoor Program provides just that for Eugeneans, and the organization’s 50th anniversary is right around the corner.

Denise Nervik leans back in her chair and smiles as she recalls hiking Bald Hill in 1993, when she first moved to Corvallis.

“I was walking up in my boots and found that I was sinking into the muck up to the boot tops,” she says. “I said to myself, ‘Now I know what I’m going to do here in Corvallis! I’m going to work on trails.’”