48th annual Corvallis Fall Festival returns, allows artists to ‘reconnect’

The+Corvallis+Fall+Festival+returned+this+year+with+COVID-19+protocol+in+place.+The+event+still+featured+local+food+vendors%2C+musical+guests+and+artists+displaying+and+selling+their+work.

H. Beck, Illustrator

The Corvallis Fall Festival returned this year with COVID-19 protocol in place. The event still featured local food vendors, musical guests and artists displaying and selling their work.

Cara Nixon, News Reporter

Each year, the Corvallis Fall Festival paints a picturesque image of the local community, bringing together the colors, shapes and lines of artists, food, music and connection.

In 2020, the 48th annual installment of the event was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. This year, however, the festival returned Sept. 25 and 26 in Central Park, and Corvallis Fall Festival Executive Director Donele Pettit-Mieding was excited to reunite the local creative community.

“I am so happy and honored to facilitate the return of this opportunity for the artists who enrich our lives at home and in public spaces every single day,” Pettit-Mieding said.

The Corvallis Fall Festival is considered a community staple and one of the premier art festivals in the Willamette Valley. Known for its original, hand-made art and idyllic setting, the event attracts artists and patrons from within and outside of Corvallis, Ore.

Admission into the event was free, and for the last weekend in September, Central Park was buzzing with art booths, food vendors and musical guests. However, the festival looked different compared to years past.

According to Pettit-Mieding, the outdoor mask mandate was enforced, increased sanita- tion was prioritized and booths were spaced apart. Additionally, hands-on activities for young children did not occur this year, and only children of vaccine-eligible age were allowed to participate in the Young Artist Marketplace.

“In lieu of a large, crowd-gathering performing arts stage, we will have local musicians performing live music at a scale recommended by the [United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] – the volume loud enough to be heard and enjoyed across a large space, but not so loud that we feel the need to lean into each other and shout to be heard,” Pettit-Mieding added.

Five food vendors were featured at the festival this year, with each fundraising for a different local non-profit. Go Giddy Pops, a woman-owned Corvallis-based frozen treat business, for example, raised money for the Vina Moses Center.

The Vina Moses Center provides relief to underserved communities in the Benton County area by offering free clothes, household goods, food, emergency financial assistance, a student support program, a giving tree program and more.

Owner of Go Giddy Pops Eve Weiss said she chose Vina Moses because of the great work they do for the community.

“I am happy that the Fall Festival is returning this year and I look forward to being a part of it,” Weiss said. “It’s been a difficult year for all of us. I am thankful for our community and its support for local businesses.”

The Corvallis Fall Festival’s idyllic setting and inspiring artists are exemplified by this year’s poster advertising the event. Originally meant for the 2020 festival, local silk painter Chính Lê’s work of art features bright colors, a Corvallis landmark and a feeling of family wand peace.

Lê, who considers himself an informal artist, created the poster with locality, togetherness and tranquility in mind. He decided to make the Irish Bend Covered Bridge the focal point after noticing that past posters hadn’t featured it.

“I thought that’s a really nice symbol for the connection between OSU and the community, because we are so codependent and so close as a community that it will be nice to have it as a symbol for a link between the university and the town,” Lê said.

Lê has been doing silk painting since the 1990s when a friend showed him the technique. “Like bright kites flying across the foggy coastal sky, the gutta lines swirled and the colorful dyes flowed to my delight, bringing out joy to the fine but otherwise lifeless white silk,” Lê said in his artist statement on his website.

Originally from Vietnam, Lê said in his artist statement that his native country provides him with the deepest inspiration for his creations, but he considers the Pacific Northwest a “paradise for artists.”

Lê shared a booth with the Corvallis Art Guild at the Corvallis Fall Festival. Though he said he was a little anxious about holding a community event during the uncertainty of the pandemic, Lê was mostly excited to return to the festival.

“We all need some kind of a breakaway and [to get] back to some sense of community,” Lê said. “…It will be really nice to reconnect.”