Per usual, this year Laurel and I went to the three-day Salem Art Fair on Friday -- with an evening return trip on Saturday to see a musical group. It was pleasingly warm and sunny.
We hear gripes from some Art Fair traditionalists about the current $5 admission charge, which necessitates a temporary chain-link fence around the fair.
Sure, I understand the concern about keeping citizens out of a public park for several days a year. But we don't mind paying the five bucks, and equally understand why the Salem Art Association feels the need to charge this.
Perhaps because this summer has been so unusually hot and rainless, on this Art Fair visit I was struck more intensely than usual by how beautiful the colorful booths were, illuminated by mid-afternoon sun.
Seeing this booth, I had a strong urge to transport it full-blown into our back yard. I closed my eyes, visualized that happening, and tapped the heels of my sandals together three times. Sadly, the booth remained as it was.
Returning Saturday evening to see the San Francisco-based Monophonics musical group -- Psychedelic Soul, yes! -- we plopped down on a grassy slope next to a girl who looked oh-so-comfortable.
We enjoyed the Art Fair, as we always do. And we also came away with the same feelings of "we wish..."
We wish the fair had "street" (OK, path) performers: musicians, jugglers, dancers, magicians, stilt walkers, whoever/whatever. It needs a dose of spontaneity, surprises, energy. Salem has lots of talented people. Why not let them entertain fairgoers throughout the fair, while also having acts on the main stage?
And we wish the fair had more healthy, vegetarian, creative food offerings. We eat lunch before we go to the fair, because we can't find anything we want to eat there, other than snacks. Why not have a good sampling of Salem's food truck scene at the fair?
Overall, though, the Salem Art Fair is one of this town's treasures. It fits Salem, being comfortably laid-back.
Yet since we habitually go to the Oregon Country Fair in Veneta on the preceding weekend (photos of this year's visit here), we can't avoid feeling that the Salem Art Fair could benefit from adding on some of the great features of the Oregon Country Fair -- like marvelous path performers and excellent ethnic/ vegetarian food.