On March 13 or 14, 2014, someone started a fire that burned most of the Dragon at the entrance to the Oregon Country Fair. The site was closed because of the hazards posed by hanging branches--"widowmakers"--broken by a snow/ice/rain storm in early February, and no one from the Fair family was allowed on site.
The Dragon on March 8, 2014
The Dragon on March 16, 2014.
Most of the Dragon's body was reduced to charred rubble.
Good advice not taken.
Dragon designer Kirk Shultz met Andy Strickland when they collaborated building the Dragon in 1991.
THE DRAGON LIVES! Watch for the revitalization of this iconic and mythic being.
Kirk Shultz showing off the realization of his dream.
Kirk, Construction Crew Co-coordinator and a member of the Path Planning Committee, shared his memories with the committee at our meeting a couple of days after the Dragon fire. The following material is adapted from the committee meeting notes.
He started on the Construction Crew in 1987. In 1991, the Left Bank was going to be opened to the public. Dennis Todd, then a construction coordinator, recognized Kirk's creativity and asked him to create a design for the long fence in the new entry to the Left Bank. The first idea was the Village Square Entry with booths breaking up the long fence. Later, Kirk was inspired by a Feng Shui book and a few glasses of red wine at 2 am. He saw a dragon in the Village Square to go along the fence line.
The “Laughing Dragon Gate” was proposed and almost everyone loved the idea when he presented it. The group excitement won the moment and the Dragon was on. Dennis put Kirk in touch with Jack Makarchek (now OCF President and Construction Co-coordinator) who helped guide and build the Dragon in many ways. "Art is Controversial" was one thought that came from Jack.
Many came and worked on the Dragon including Andy Strickland, now Site Caretaker, who became an artist-builder at the Fair in part through this dream design. Jack said it couldn’t be a Chinese Dragon, it had to be a Hippie Dragon, and brought up the idea of using thatch.
Jill’s Crossing, Blue Moon and Left Bank History Booth were also built during this same season. It was a time of change when we opened the Left Bank. It was challenging but the family rose to it and marked the shift from the first era of Fair to the next.
The Dragon became a symbol of that transition. Through the energy of the Family building the Dragon it took on essence beyond just wood and thatch. It became a real dragon and not just a sketchy design to make a fence look pretty. The Dragon building became a dragon pulling itself through our hands and heart. So many of us contributed work, materials and lore to this project. One example, there was a bonfire of old booth wood out in Dead Lot that summer and the remains were raked to help clean up the lot. A friend of Kirk's came running to get Kirk to come quickly as he had raked the remains of the coals into a long smoldering line. He said he heard a dragon tell him it was important that Kirk come quickly. Kirk’s friend showed him the door and entrance into this dragon, where the door was by the tail. He had to walk through this entrance offering tobacco as he went. He walked along the ashes to the head, and there was a dragon with embers for eyes present. It had the look of the Dragon that later was painted on the Stanley Mouse OCF Poster if you want to imagine its look.
Kirk was not sure what to believe and did not know what to do next. So, he tried to be polite and invent some ceremony. The Dragon spoke with Kirk directly after Kirk honored the four directions and offered tobacco. The Dragon shared his name with Kirk and said he had been on this land for an eternity. He was not old and he was not young. He had three words for Kirk: Joy, Love and Sinister (the Dragon's pose is a left-handed curl). He explained that he is a Fire Dragon and will be around to watch over and protect us. The Dragon has been a motivation for Kirk and the many who thatch and take care of the Dragons every year at Fair since.
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