Oregon Country Fair Timeline

Compiled from OCF documents, newspaper articles and years of research

Nov. 1 & 2, 1969 — First Faire: Two-day Renaissance Pleasure Faire held in a pasture at a teacher’s farm on Hawkins Road to benefit a school called Children’s House. About 2,000 attended. $1 donation.

May 29-31, 1970 — Crow Road Faire: The second Oregon Renaissance Fair on Crow Road raised funds for Family Counseling Service of Lane County.

Oct. 16-18, 1970 — First Long Tom Faire: The third Renaissance Fair was the first held at the current location. Cynthia and Bill Wooten co-coordinate the event with friends.  About 20,000 attended; $1 donation.

June 11-13, 1971 — Fair featured 50 food booths, lots of crafts, a beer garden, homebrew tasting and a commune info center. It “started in the hot sunshine and ended in a mire of mud,” the Augur reported. Cars and buses got stuck in the parking lot for days. 50-cent admission (instead of $1 donation) Estimated 10,000-15,000 attended.

August 1971 — Lane County commissioners passed assemblies ordinance, restricting organized gatherings of more than 1,500 for more than four hours in unincorporated, unimproved areas.

Oct. 8-10, 1971 — First camping passes created to comply with the new county assemblies ordinance. More than 200 vendors; stages featured acoustic music. Speakers include U.S. Sen. Wayne Morse and famed author Ken Kesey. Off-duty police hired to help with traffic. Security Crew established. Water barrels added. Dogs banned. Admission increased to 75 cents.

June 30, July 1-3, 1972 — Only four-day Fair: Members of the Hoedads tree-planting cooperative stepped up to handle Security Crew. After many Fairgoers shed their clothes in a heat wave, coordinators agree to a “’purple sock” rule as being minimum requirement for men.

August 28, 1972 — Grateful Dead Field Trip held in the parking lots of Fair site as a benefit for Springfield Creamery. Chuck and Sue Kesey rented the property from the same group the Fair rented from, Western Aerial Contractors.

June 22-24, 1973 — Oregon Renaissance Faire features craft demonstrations, multiple stages. $1 admission. Hoax bomb threat on Saturday afternoon caused sheriff to shut off incoming traffic. Bill Wooten said Fair folks had “a calm and easy reaction” to the threat.

Sept. 13-15, 1974 — Ken Kesey spoke from Main Stage, asking for “a great roar of love that can be heard around the state.” First Fair for Dr. Atomic’s Medicine Show and also for “Major Chumleigh.” 265 craft booths.

June 27-29, 1975 — Oregon Country Renaissance Faire in transition to a new name. Peach woodcut logo used in ads. Reverend Chumleigh and a cohort of vaudeville entertainers create “Chumleighland” stage (where W.C. Fields is now).  First time for the marching band parade.  $1.75 admission.

June 25-27, 1976 — First year as Oregon Country Fair. Alternative Technology Area added, featuring “composting toilets, food dehydrators, a solar wax melter, see-through beehives, a bicycle-powered flour mill and a methane digester.” $1.75 admission, bus riders get 50-cent ticket discount.

June 24-26, 1977 — Community Village established (originally called Appropriate Technology Area) to showcase working cooperatively and living lightly on the land. Six stages: two for theater, dance, storytelling and puppet shows; two for jugglers, acrobats, fire eaters and sword swallowers; two for music (Shady Grove and the “Great Meadow” stage).

Dusty paths were covered with sawdust and watered down. $2.50 admission. Bus riders got 50 cents off ticket price. Estimated 18,000 revelers.

May 31, 1977 — Fair attorney Jill Heiman filed papers to get the Oregon Country Fair recognized as an Oregon nonprofit corporation.

July 7-9, 1978 — Five stages listed: Circus, Festival Stage, Daredevil Meadow, Shady Grove and Great Meadow Main Stage. $3 admission, bus riders got 75 cents off ticket price. Estimated 22,000 attended.

June 29, 30, July 1, 1979 — Three stages: Festival Stage with Reverend Chumleigh, Flying Karamazov Brothers, Magical Mystical Michael; Great Meadow Stage with a variety of music and dance; Shady Grove Stage with different music every 40 minutes. Admission $3.50, bus riders got $1.25 discount on ticket.

April 1980 — Oregon Country Fair formally recognized as a federal 501(c)(3) nonprofit, making it tax-exempt.

July 11-13, 1980 — Lane County commissioners imposed a $10,000 security bond on the Fair, but waived it at the last minute after Fair attorney Jill Heiman filed an injunction against the bond and a lawsuit seeking damages. The Fair goes on.

July 10-12, 1981 — Energy Park debuted as Oregon Energy Horizons, featuring renewable energy exhibits in Kesey Park. Six stages: Admission $4, free bus rides.

February 12, 1982 — Oregon Country Fair got a check for $19,000 from Lane County to settle the lawsuit filed by Jill Heiman in 1980.

July 8, 1982 — Fair Treasurer Ron Chase signed the Fair’s promissory note to buy 240 acres of land along the Long Tom River for $250,000 and made the first $50,000 down payment. The note called for a second down payment of $50,000 by December 31, 1982, and for 10 annual payments of $26,370 due each September 1.

July 9-11, 1982 — The euphoric celebration of buying the land includes the Fighting Instruments of Karma Marching Chamber Band/Orchestra marching the Eight path in a mostly-naked parade.

August 28, 1982 — Springfield Creamery rents the Fair’s parking lot fields to put on the second Decadenal Grateful Dead Field Trip concert. The rental fee helped make the second down-payment on the land in December 1982.

July 8-10, 1983 — Mud Fair. Volunteers pitch in for huge effort to scrape mud off the paths and spread straw Friday morning. Zak Schwartz of White Bird started offering pre-Fair sessions of Crisis Intervention training — later renamed Human Intervention (HI) training — for all Fair crews.

1986 — Archaeological digs relating to the rerouting of Highway 126 document that the Kalapuya peoples gathered in the Fern Ridge area near Fair property 11,000 years ago, and continued to gather seasonally for thousands of years.

July 11-13, 1986 — Peachi the Dragon, originally co-created by the Radar Angels, paraded around the paths of the Eight for the first time.

April 3, 1989 — Fair hired first paid general manager, Arna Shaw.

July 7-9, 1989 — Fair celebrated 20th anniversary with carrot cake and talks by Bill Wooten and Cindy Wooten. New water pipes supplied water fountains that replaced most of the old water barrels. Rerouted Highway 126 created a new entrance to the Fair’s parking lots, resulting in fewer traffic jams in the area.

July 13-15, 1990 — KLCC started live broadcasts from Main Stage. The original mortgage for the property along the Long Tom River was paid off.

July 12-14, 1991 — Left Bank established to provide room to move booths crowded out by river erosion along the original Eight path. Jill’s Crossing and DeSpain Bridge opened.

April 1, 1992 — Fair hired Leslie Scott as general manager.

May 1992 — Volunteers published the first monthly newsletter to members, provisionally named Fair Family Flashes and soon renamed Fair Family News.

November 1992 — Oregon Country Fair Endowment established, later renamed the Bill Wooten Endowment Fund.

July 9-11, 1993 — Stage Left opened on the Left Bank. City of Veneta and the Fair co-sponsor public camping at Zumwalt Campground on Fern Ridge Reservoir. The Fair establishes the Neighborhood Response Team.

1995 — First watershed enhancement feasibility grant.

July 12-14, 1996  — Advance, off-site ticket sales began. Jill Heiman Vision Fund established. Record Fair attendance of 53,000.

August 1996 — Further Festival held in the Fair’s parking lot.

September 10, 1996 — Respect Our Community Committee established by the Fair’s neighbors in Veneta and Elmira, elected officials and Fair leaders.

July 11-13, 1997 — Chela Mela Meadow opened with yoga garden, children’s art area, a yurt for Tom Noddy’s bubble magic, and more open space. Long Tom Watershed Council established with Further Festival funds. Fair and the city of Veneta awarded a Wetlands Consolidation Grant.

1998 — The Fair purchased a house in Eugene for a year-round office and volunteer meeting space.

2001 — Fair awarded Indian Creek Enhancement Grant.

August 11-12, 2001 — Culture Jam, a weekly youth empowerment program, held for the first time in August on the uplands of Fair property.

May 2007 — Fair board approves the Peach Power Fund to accept donations for capital projects involving energy and water conservation and renewable technologies.

July 10-12, 2015 — New Area (later dubbed Xavanadu) opened, creating much more open space for play.

July 12-14, 2019 — 50th Anniversary Celebration at the Oregon Country Fair.