Terry Baxter

Letting the Fair speak for itself

Terry Baxter was a jock when he was younger. He wasn’t interested in a hippie happening like the Oregon Country Fair. But when he got older, having lived in Oregon most of his life, he decided he needed to see what the Fair was about.

He found at OCF a language that appealed to him. The Fair’s vision for sustainability, Baxter says, was put into practice long before it was embraced by mainstream culture. He appreciated the limited hierarchy for decision making as well, and its underlying philosophy of peace.  

Baxter is an archivist for Multnomah County. Even before he was contacted by long-time Fair videographer Jerry Joffe, he wondered if anyone was doing work to archive the Fair. Baxter has been working with Joffe for four years now, archiving visual materials and special collections. The visual materials change as technology has: motion picture film starting from the first year in 1969, VHS tape in the ’80s, and finally the change to digital. 

Joffe helps Baxter put the archival material into context. He has been with the Fair longer, having worked as a security crew and a videographer of the Fair in the early ’80s. Context is important, Baxter says. It provides opportunities for all those involved to tell their own stories. Without the archives you might document the Fair using just one authoritative narrative. But collecting archival material from a multitude of people’s experiences allows the Fair, Baxter says, “to speak for itself.”    

The Oregon Country Fair will speak for itself through archival material this summer on display at Lane County History Museum in Eugene and at the Collins Gallery at the Multnomah County Library in Portland.

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