Oregon Country Fair just celebrated its 50th anniversary. But like so many popular events, COVD-19 has taken OCF off the calendar.
Wally Bomgaars, OCF executive director posted on the Fair’s webpage that “We’re sorry to say that our traditional gathering on the Fair site in July will not be taking place. It’s important that you do not plan on it happening.”
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced guidelines for opening Oregon back up. Phase 1 of the pandemic re-opening means that “some counties will be eligible to begin the limited reopening of additional business sectors beginning as early as May 15 if they have demonstrated they have met all prerequisites for reopening,” according to the governor’s office.
However, the statement issued on May 7 also says that the governor “announced that large gatherings such as conventions, festivals, and major concerts and live audience sporting events will need to be cancelled at least through September. Restarting events of this size will require a reliable treatment or prevention, like a vaccine, which is many months off. Further guidance on large events will be provided in the coming months.”
Bomgaars writes in his statement that “The health and safety of the public and local communities are paramount to the Oregon Country Fair. The organization will follow all state and federal recommendations regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, including Governor Brown’s statement today on event and gathering limits.”
However, Bomgaars says OCF has a problem lurking over it — OCF needs to protect its ability to hold the Fair in the future. He writes that “the Fair operates under legacy ‘nonconforming use’ rights that could potentially be lost if we do not exercise these rights by holding an event this summer. We are working with and through all the appropriate government bodies to find a solution that preserves our property rights without risking further spread of COVID-19 in the community. We will continue to keep everyone updated on the matter.”
Bomgaars says OCF is “looking at all the ways we can come together as a community virtually, and are excited about the many ideas and possibilities that so many are bringing forward.”