Culture Win: the 2013 Fall Festival

fallfestivalBy now, most Corvallisites are aware that this year’s Fall Festival was canceled toward the end of day one, Sept. 28, due to weather. And by weather, I mean buckets of rain and some rather nasty wind. By my own standards I’d hardly call it a storm, but for Oregon it was way out of the ordinary, evidenced if by nothing else, Pacific Power’s inability to keep the grid on throughout it.

This was a huge loss to the community, and was especially felt by those that work or volunteer with the festival, as well as those vendors with booths. I was out there all day Saturday starting at 7 a.m. to help with the Temporary Artists’ Guild booth, and I can attest to the fact that it was less than fun. Cold, wind threatening to rip our tent out from underneath piles of bricks, a floor that converted to a mud pit, and art strung up in a way that might have suggested we hired Mr. Bean to do it. Luckily we didn’t suffer any damage, but not all vendors were that lucky. I walked in my door 13 hours after I had left that morning, soaked and covered in sludge up over my knees.

Strangely enough, I had a good time.

What I took away from the event was a renewed sense of community. The Fall Festival crew was incredibly helpful and willing to get right down there in the muck with the rest of us—especially Director Christine Hackenbruck—and whenever a vendor was having difficulties it didn’t take long before several people rushed over to help. Although Corvallis can feel small and constricted at times, this was a good reminder of what we’ve got going for us.

Although some vendors have since inquired about a partial refund of the booth fee for a lost day, the Fall Festival contract does not contain a refund clause. “Everyone should remember that we lost just as much, if not more than the artists. This is the risk of being a commission festival,” said Hackenbruck when interviewed.

When the possibility of a contingency plan for the future was discussed, Hackbruck said, “We have not had a follow-up board meeting yet to discuss a contingency plan for next year. Honestly, we all need to remember that this storm was freakish. We’ve never canceled in 41 years and I hear it’s only rained that weekend a handful of times.“

We can all look forward to next year, when Willamette artists set up shop in the park once again and provide one of the most densely rich art and craft shows around. That said, I’ll be purchasing some rubber boots in case lightning decides to strike twice.