Consider taking a trip to the Faire

— Many people who grow up in the Okanogan Valley have generalized, stereotypical views of the “hippies” who attend the annual “Barter Faire.” But when talking to those who regularly go to the event, they offer a quite different perspective.

Perception is reality.

There’s no denying the use of marijuana as odors of “homegrown” smoke rise into the air. But it is legal now, and officials for the Barter Faire — now officially named the Okanogan Family Faire — pull out all stops to keep it out of sight and under control.

The faire attracts people of alternative lifestyles, cultures and heritage. People in giraffe suits, peacock feather hats and even the occasional man wearing a loin cloth.

But the Faire also encompasses something else. Something no one but a “hippy” will tell you, a true rarity, scarcely found in common society.

As people gathered in droves on Cayuse Mountain this past weekend, it was evident the event was really a family reunion, of sorts. Hugs, smiles and laughter fill the air as young and old wandered through a maze of booths, showcasing hand-crafted arts, crafts and canned goods.

The food and demonstrations on “Artisan Row” were superb. Aerial acrobats performed on suspended ropes, spinning and dazzling in the air, something one would only see at a big-time circus. And the music was more than just “dread-head” reggae. Musical selections of rock, blues, country and gospel reigned across the valley; something appealing to all walks of life.

The personalities of those in attendance is something not seen on our city streets very often. But just about everyone you meet, whether they knew you or not, would talk to you and make you feel like family.

So when next October rolls around, toss aside those preconceived notions, and consider jumping in a Volkswagen bus and heading up state Highway 20 to the “Barter Faire.” It’s not as wild and woolly as you may have been told.


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