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Okanogan Family Faire celebrates 40th anniversary

Annual trading, music, arts festival kicks off Friday

— The Okanogan Family Faire will begin its 40th annual celebration of arts, entertainment and bartering this weekend.

The event, commonly known as Barter Faire, will kick off at the faire grounds, 76 W. Cayuse Mountain Road, at 8 a.m. Friday and will run throughout the weekend with a non-stop slate of musicians and demonstrations. Vendors will begin setting up shop Thursday. The final musicians are scheduled to take the stage at 4 p.m. Sunday.

Faire Manager Sadie Cohoe said the majority of people camp at the three-day event, but day passes are also available until 5 p.m. Cohoe said those with a day pass are asked to leave by midnight.

Cohoe said last year there were about 7,000 people that attended the event.

“It’s like a huge family reunion,” she said.

While the event has expanded a great deal since its early days, bartering remains a central facet of the faire.

“It’s a huge trading event,” Cohoe said. “It’s almost like a giant huge flea market.”

Cohoe said much of the focus has always been to make the event like a large-scale farmers market, where people can buy, sell and trade produce, arts, crafts and a wide variety of handmade items.

Trading and bartering are encouraged, “rather than depending on a currency,” Cohoe said.

This year’s Okanogan Family Faire brings a few new additions for its 40th anniversary.

There will be 40th anniversary memorabilia, the merchandise side, but decided to sell some items this year for the its anniversary, with all proceeds going to help fund scholarships and grants.

The faire isn’t just a massive festival.

It has also has taken its place as a community member and benefactor. It helped spawn the Community Cultural Center, Green Okanogan recycling and Tonasket Natural Foods Co-op, and gives scholarships to graduating seniors and grants to community organizations.

“It’s helped make Tonasket a great place to live,” longtime volunteer Michael “Buffalo” Mazzetti said.

Another added element will be Artisan Row, located at the beginning of “Main Street.”

Artisan Row will feature demonstrations on Friday and Saturday.

The demonstrations include copper jewelry making with Jeana Rushton, blacksmithing with Salem Straub, basket-weaving with Irene Hinkle, spinning wheel with Lindy Weber, woodworking with Andre Jaillet, glass blowing with Kristi MacDonald, book-binding with Julia Garretson and assemblage art with Lorrie Dorrell.

There will also be canoe carving and workshops throughout the weekend.

The musical acts include both local performers and musicians from around the country, with an amplified stage and a solar stage. The lineup includes Julie Dubois, Captain Hardware and Friends, Dayton Edmunds, Captain’s Orders, Planetary Refugees, Randy Battle and Friends, Ruby Rust, Eb and Flow, The Medicine Brothers, The Company Band, Hippies on Vacation, Knowbody Knew, Lota and Friends, Steve Sher and Friends, Mighty Lions, Sick Donkey Records Crew, Hybrid Vibe, Los Rusteros and Steve Kinzie.

Although this will be the first Okanogan Family Faire since marijuana was legalized in the state, organizers say their rules haven’t changed at all with regards to drugs and alcohol.

Marijuana consumption is prohibited in public spaces at the faire.

The fairgrounds are on private property, but the streets, pathways and stage areas are considered public spaces, Cohoe said.

Selling marijuana at the barter faire is strictly prohibited in accordance with laws set forth by the state Liquor Control Board. The same rules apply to alcohol.

“We cannot control every little thing at the fair, but we don’t want to see it in the street,” Cohoe said.

For more about the event, see the 2013 Okanogan Family Faire guide, published by The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle.

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