A complete guide to the Oregon Country Fair so you know what to expect, what to enjoy, and where to stay during this hippie festival in Veneta, Oregon.
The Oregon Country Fair has become a staple in Oregon since its start in 1969. I heard about it enough times before I moved to Oregon – mainly from my hippie parents – and I knew I wanted to check it out for myself once I was living in the Pacific Northwest.
The Oregon Country Fair is a three-day festival in Veneta, just outside of Eugene, Oregon.
The fair usually happens at the beginning to middle of July and is something between a renaissance fair, music festival, and an acid trip from the 60s. They continue to expand the festival every year because it has become such a big deal in the community over the past 50 years.
In 2019, the fair had a record attendance with over 50,000 attendees. You could say it has kind of become a big deal in the US festival scene.
Ages at the Oregon Country Fair range from children and families to old hippies that never left the 60s, and 20-something hipsters. It is an extremely versatile festival and the fair makes a point of being age inclusive (and they’ve done a good job with it).
I wanted to write up a full guide to this festival not only because it’s so photogenic, but because it is a unique experience to have at least once in your life.
I’ve been to a lot of festivals over the past decade and this one is very different from any others I’ve been to. Zany is a word that comes to mind, but you’ll have to see for yourself someday!
Here’s my full guide to the Oregon Country fair and everything you should know before you go.
Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.
Where is the Oregon Country Fair?
The Oregon Country Fair is located near Veneta, Oregon.
Veneta is about 15 miles directly west of Eugene (30 minute drive), 120 miles south of Portland (two hour drive), 50 miles east of Florence (one hour drive), and 175 miles north of Ashland (three hour drive).
How to Get Oregon Country Fair Tickets
The easiest way to get Oregon Country Fair tickets is online through TicketsWest. You can also order tickets over the phone or at select TicketsWest outlets. Keep in mind that there are no tickets sold at the gate, so you have to buy tickets ahead of time. Kids 10 and under are free.
You’ll also want to buy your parking pass on TicketsWest when you buy your admission ticket. Parking is $15 per day.
The great thing about the Oregon Country Fair ticketing system is that you can buy tickets for individual days, instead of having to buy a full weekend pass like many other festivals.
Plan out which musical acts and special events you want to go to ahead of time by looking at the schedule, and buy tickets for the days that line up with those performances. Or, buy tickets for the full weekend of festivities, OCF only happens once a year, after all!
Oregon Country Fair Vendors
At the Oregon Country Fair there are multiple vendors selling tie-dyed hippie wear, colorful art, and organic food and drinks.
The aspect that makes the Oregon Country Fair so special when it comes to its local vendors is that it gives fairgoers the opportunity to purchase products directly from artists in the community.
In fact, artists are required to be at the booth where their products are being sold while it’s open.
The products that are sold at the fair are completely unique and handmade. So, what you purchase from the fair goes directly back into the community, which was one of the main reasons OCF was started in the first place.
There are 300 craft vendors at the fair and you can expect to find the following types of products being sold: woven baskets, beaded jewelry, body art, body care, candles, clothing & hats, art, furniture, home & garden, glasswork, musical instruments, pottery, crystals, toys, and woodworking.
For the food vendors, there are 80 different booths, ranging from Peruvian, Indian, Nepalese, Mexican, Thai, Middle Eastern, and Moroccan culinary options to cookies, cheesecake, waffles, and organic juices and smoothies, among plenty of other choices.
When it comes to the Oregon Country Fair vendors, ‘spoiled for choice’ is an understatement.
Oregon Country Fair Music & Entertainment
Although the entertainment at the Oregon Country Fair used to only showcase folk music, it has changed tremendously over the years to encompass a wide range of acts and genres of music.
These days you can expect to still find the classic folk music that has always been a staple to the festival, but also rock, alternative, soul, and world music, as well as tons of other types of entertainment such as juggling, belly dancing, puppeteering, magicians, and more.
There are also multiple buskers throughout the walkways of the fair doing their own thing in random parts of the festival, no stage needed.
With 19 stages at the Oregon Country Fair (and plenty of musicians who play without any stage), it would be hard to find something you didn’t like.
Other Attractions at the Oregon Country Fair
People Watching – One of the best things to do at the Oregon Country Fair! There are endless opportunities for people watching.
Fair attendees go all out in costumes and colorful accessories (and you should too to get into the fair spirit). You’ll find fairies, giants on stilts, renaissance dresses, and more.
Also, not pictured are the abundance of naked people around the festival. Don’t be surprised if you come across many bare bottomed old men as you’re walking around the festival. To each their own, I guess.
Interactive Workshops – Another aspect to love about the Oregon Country Fair are the many interactive workshops on offer around the different stages.
If you want to learn a specific dance, or how to tie-dye a shirt, or even learn some woodwork or basket weaving skills, chances are you’ll be able to find it at the fair.
Art Installations – Similar to Burning Man but on a much smaller and more hippie Renaissance level, there are tons of art installations around the fair. You’ll come across them while you randomly walk from stage to stage, some of them more hidden than others.
My personal favorites the last time I went were the Winnie the Pooh themed installations and the oversized puppets.
Parades – There are bombastic parades that snake their way through the fair every day of the festivities, multiple times a day. They usually involve a lot of costumes, dancing, and big band music.
The circus parade, one of the biggest and most popular parades of the festival, goes through at around 12 pm and 4 pm every day of the fair.
Kids Activities – Even with the amount of naked bums, the Oregon Country Fair is very much a kid-friendly event and plenty of parents bring their young ones to join in on the festivities (especially since kids 10 and under get in for free).
Because of this, there are kids activities on offer throughout each day of the festival to keep young ones entertained.
Different kids activities at the fair include face painting, hula hooping, and costume making. There is even a playground and climbing structure in the Kids Loop part of the fair.
Accommodation for the Oregon Country Fair
The Oregon Country Fair doesn’t offer camping, but there are plenty of accommodation options near the fair to choose from. Here are a few of those options.
Campsites Closest to the Oregon Country Fair
If you’re looking for good central Oregon campsites that are closest to the festivities, these would all be good options. Just make sure to book these well in advance because the campsites sell out like hotcakes for OCF dates.
Places to Stay in Eugene, Oregon
With free shuttles that runs from Eugene to OCF all weekend, Eugene is a popular place to stay while attending the festival, especially if you’re not interested in camping and you want more choices for accommodation.
Related: A Guide to the Best Eugene Breweries
These would be my picks for where to stay in Eugene.
Eugene Whiteaker International Hostel – The only hostel in Eugene, Whitetaker International Hostel is a good budget option for fair attendees who want to be social and not spend a ton of money on accommodation.
The hostel features a garden, non-smoking rooms, shared lounge, and a patio for every room. There’s a free vegetarian breakfast served every morning and options for dorm-style rooms as well as a private room.
Downtown Inn – Downtown Inn is another great budget option in Eugene if you’re not keen on staying in a hostel. The inn is located right in the heart of Eugene, central to many of the city’s attractions and only an eight-minute walk from the Amtrak station.
Features of the inn include a free continental breakfast, free parking, 24-hour front desk, cable TV, microwave, refrigerator, and ironing facilities in the rooms.
Campus Inn & Suites – A slightly higher price point than Downtown Inn, Campus Inn & Suites is also in a central location, near Shedd Institute and the University of Oregon.
One of the best features of this hotel is the outdoor hot tub, perfect to relax in after a long day at the fair. Other features of the inn include cable TV, mini-fridge, daily continental breakfast, on-site fitness center, and a sun terrace on the upper deck.
EVEN Hotel Eugene – The EVEN Hotel is all about a clean design and modern facilities. This unique accommodation is perfect for health enthusiasts as it has in-room fitness equipment, as well as an on-site fitness center. Some rooms even feature stationary bikes.
Other features of EVEN Hotel include flat-screen TVs, ensuite bathrooms that have spa showers, an on-site market and bar that offers healthy and gluten-free meals, and a complimentary shuttle to and from the Eugene airport.
Hyatt Place Eugene – If you want a touch of luxury after a dusty day at the Oregon Country Fair, the Hyatt Place is the perfect stay for comfort and relaxation after the festivities.
The Hyatt Place is a short distance outside of downtown Eugene and offers a 24-hour fitness center, indoor pool, free parking, an on-site market and bar, and is known for their friendly and accommodating staff.
Directions to the Oregon Country Fair
How to get from Portland to Veneta
If you’re coming from Portland, the easiest way to get down to Veneta is to drive and take I-5 South and then hop on the OR-126 West once you hit Eugene. It takes around two hours.
If you don’t want to drive, you can take the Amtrak train from Portland to Eugene, and then either the local Eugene transport (it involves two buses: the 41 or the Emx-Eug and the 93) or take the fair shuttle bus to OCF (but these only run on the days of the festival).
The Amtrak takes about three hours and costs around $28 one-way.
BoltBus has become a popular option to cheaply get around the Pacific Northwest as well. You can take the BoltBus from Portland to Eugene and then follow the same instructions above to get from Eugene to Veneta. The BoltBus takes around 2.5 hours and only costs $15.
You can also take Lyft or Uber from Eugene to Veneta, but it’s a 30 minute drive and will cost you around $35-$45.
Your best bet is to either drive and stay at one of the campsites near the fair or to stay in Eugene and take the free OCF shuttle there and back each day.
How to get from Ashland to Veneta
If you’re coming from Southern Oregon, the easiest way to get to Veneta is to drive and take I-5 North and then OR-38 West to go all the way to Veneta. It takes around three hours.
Unfortunately, there’s only one Amtrak train that leaves from Ashland that goes to Eugene and it involves a bus and a train and a lengthy travel time of 20 hours because it has to go through Klamath Falls.
If you’re coming from the south it’s much better just to drive.
Other ways to get to Veneta, Oregon
If you’re coming from further than Oregon, you can fly into the Eugene Airport. You can usually find a few good deals with Allegiant Airlines to Eugene Airport, especially if you’re coming from California.
Or if that’s too expensive, you can fly into the more major Portland International Airport and either rent a car or take the Amtrak or BoltBus down to Eugene. Sometimes this will work out to be less expensive depending on where you’re flying from.
How to take the free shuttle from Eugene to the Oregon Country Fair
The free shuttles from Eugene run on every day of the festival starting from 10am. You can catch the shuttle from the LTD Downtown Station at 10th and Willamette or the Valley River Center northwest parking lot.
Shuttles leave every 15 minutes. Just note that the last shuttle from the fair back to Eugene leaves at 7:30 pm. All you have to do to board is show your ticket or confirmation to the driver and they’ll take you directly to the fair entrance. No bikes are allowed on the shuttles.
Recommended Experience: Eugene City Tour
Veneta, Oregon Weather in July
The weather in central Oregon in July is usually pretty perfect, hovering around 80 degrees. You can sometimes get muggy and humid overcast days in the summer, but for the most part it’s pretty sunny.
Make sure to bring sunscreen because not all of the stages are shaded and this is one of the hottest months of the year in Oregon.
How to Become an Oregon Country Fair Volunteer
The best way to become a volunteer at the Oregon Country Fair is to know someone who is already on staff because there’s no central application process for the fair. There are different OCF volunteer crews and each one does their own recruiting.
The easiest way to do this if you don’t know anyone is to attend the fair as a guest the first time and talk to the volunteer crews you see around the festival. Ask the volunteers you meet about their specific process for hiring at next year’s fair.
You can also find out about upcoming volunteer work parties and meetings in the fair newsletter if you want to meet people that way.
From what I heard while I was at the fair, the real party happens after the fair ends, but it’s only for volunteers, food staff, artisans, and performers. All the more reason to volunteer for at least a day or two of the festival if you want to get the full experience.
Other Things to Know Before You Go
What to bring – blanket to sit on, a water container (they have water refill stations around the festival), comfortable shoes, cash or ATM card (a lot of places don’t accept credit card).
You can also bring folding chairs to sit on, but keep in mind that there’s a lot of walking involved and you’ll have to carry it all day. In addition, regular cameras are allowed but not video cameras. And no glass is allowed inside the festival.
Services – There are quite a few services offered at the fair including ATMs (but expect long lines), childcare facilities and diaper services, wheelchair accessible paths, backpack check in, first aid, public and private showers, phone charging stations, and there’s technically WIFI although it doesn’t work very well with so many people at the fair.
Pets aren’t allowed – unfortunately, unless it’s a service animal pet’s aren’t allowed inside the fair.
It’s a drug and alcohol-free event – this surprises a lot of people, but technically drugs and alcohol aren’t allowed inside the fair and alcohol isn’t sold at any of the food booths.
With that said, there are still a lot of people who smoke weed throughout the festival, just know that they will (casually) check your bags on entry to make sure you’re not bringing in any substances.
Dress up – The more over-the-top and colorful the costume the better. People go all out with wacky costumes that are all kinds of awesome. Be one of those people!
PRACTICAL INFO FOR OREGON
Book a vacation rental on AirBnB (and get $40 off your first booking).
Buy your Oregon Guide here.
Pin this image for future reference
Looking for more Oregon travel inspiration? Check out these related posts below!
- A Detailed Tieks Review (for 2020): Are Tieks Worth It? - July 2, 2020
- Best 4 Person Tent for Camping and Backpacking in 2020 - June 29, 2020
- 17 Best Weekend Trips From San Francisco (From a Local) - June 18, 2020