by Alex Anderson
Students and the surrounding community came together to celebrate creativity and strive for social change at the 49th annual North Country Fair in Arcata Plaza on Sept. 16 and 17.
The North Country Fair strives to recognize the eccentric beauty of Arcata and the vibrant people who call it home; celebrating healthy community, environment and cooperation. According to northcountryfair.org, nearly 200 vendors were in attendance to sell their art or deliver their messages to the public. This year’s fair revolved around the theme of ‘Creating The Flow,’ referring to the process for which artists develop their work and embodying the sentiment: you must be the change you wish to see in the world.
According to North Country Fair Director Alex Ozaki-Mcneill, there were roughly 4,000 people in attendance throughout the weekend. Ozaki-Mcneill explained how the event focuses on the creativity of local artists, as well as a desire to spark environmental change in the community with the event’s responsible waste initiative. Every year, event staff and volunteer groups weigh all of the trash, recycling and compost, keeping tally of totals and focusing on keeping as much as possible out of the landfill. Ozaki-Mcneill also touched on the friendships formed as one of the stand out aspects of this event.
“All of the friendships that are formed between [the] community who have favorite vendors that they look for every year,” Ozaki-Mcneill said. “One of our vendors describes it as a giant community hug and I’ve really adopted that, I really like that.”
Each year the North Country Fair features two parades, the All Species and Samba parades, which bring hundreds of community members together to witness the creativity of their neighbors. With this year’s theme focused on positive change, the main component of this year’s All Species Parade was a depiction of the demolishing of the dams along the Klamath river. Parade participants wore fish heads and carried decorated cutouts of salmon and sturgeon, which were created with the help of Arcata Playhouse Arts and the Yurok Tribal council.
Cal Poly Humboldt students were in attendance taking in the vibes of the North Country Fair. Rize Oliveira, a Cal Poly Humboldt student studying forest hydrology, characterized the fair as a fun place to see the community gather. Not knowing that the event was taking place, Oliveira stumbled across the fair with a friend to see what all the commotion was about. She explained her favorite part of the event.
“For me: everyone’s energy,” Oliveira said. “It’s a good way to see everyone come together, gather around with similar interests and appreciate local artists and their work that they’re doing.”
Other Cal Poly Humboldt students saw the fair as a special way to signify the changing of the seasons, gearing the community towards the coming shift in weather. Nicole Pastori, a critical race and gender studies major who grew up in Humboldt, described the event as a nice way to wrap up the summer and celebrate the coming of fall. The parades featured in the event are very characteristic of Arcata, according to Pastori.
“I think it’s so quintessentially Arcata,” Pastori said. “It’s in your face about it. I think anyone who wasn’t from here would have a hard time understanding, if they weren’t themselves on the plaza. It’s a hard-to-describe event, but it was good this year.”