The Oregon Country Fair’s endless drumcircle.

My informant is a regular attendant of the Oregon Country Fair. The Oregon Country Fair is an annual non-profit craft fair held in Eugine Oregon held on the second weekend of July. In its inception it was known as the Oregon Renaissance Faire,  however in 1977 it changed its name to better reflect what it represented. One thing to know before reading this is that the fairground is in the shape of a large figure eight. At the center of this figure eight, where all the paths collide, there is always a drum circle going. This drum circle starts at the beginning of the fair and does not end until the fair is over. Even at night, when most people are sound asleep, a few designated people stay up to continue the drum circle. While there are a few people required to stay and keep the drum circle going at all times, it is generally an open communal experience. People are free to join (assuming they have a drum) and leave the circle whenever they please. My informant participated in this drum circle last year and was ecstatic to talk about how important it is to the Oregon Country Fair experience. The first thing he immediately mentioned when asked about the drum circle is that “it represents the heartbeat of the entire fair.” He said that because of its central location, “the drum circle is the central landmark of the fair. If you ever want to meet up with somebody but do not know where they are, you will meet up at the drum circle. It is easy to get find no matter where in the fair you are.”

When asked about what playing in the circle is like my informant revealed that “it really puts you in a trance. You suddenly feel like you are connected with everybody in the circle. And because so many people join and leave that circle you kind of get to know a little bit of everyone. At least rhythmically.” He went on to talk about how the drum circle was one of the most fun moments of his Oregon Country Fair experience last year and repeatedly stressed how integral it was to the experience. In many ways, this drum circle is very shamanistic and resembles how some people will beat a drum while performing rituals in order to enter a more trance-like state. The difference lies in the scale. Rather than an individual using a drum to help enter a trance-like state, the Oregon Country Fair has a drum circle to help the entire community enter a more trance like state. I’m sure that is why this specific tradition was so important to my informant. The drum circle existing at the center of the fair must be a powerful way to incorporate a trance state on a larger scale. If I were to go to the Oregon Country Fair to research this further I am sure that I would find many other attendants who feel as strongly about the importance of the drum circle as my informant.