These shots show the new Oregon State Fair 55-foot tower, made from recycled steel and created to mark Oregon's sesquicentennial this year. The new tower is meant to recreate the old State Fair Flame as a landmark and meeting place for fairgoers. Fifty years ago a 75-foot candle, the "Oregon Flame," was built at the fair to honor Oregon agriculture (I've been unable to easily find history indicating what happened to the Flame). The old tower was fueled by natural gas, where the new one shown here will be lit with renewable energy sources. It will eventually have a solar-powered laser prism that will shine into the sky.
The tower doesn't yet have a name, although that will change on Labor Day when the winning name is announced. Fairgoers had an opportunity to vote for their choice among ten names selected from those suggested by citizens. Unfortunately, we didn't get to vote because the paper ballots near the ballot box had all been used by the time we got there late that afternoon. These were the choices, and I'll add a postscript to this post after the thing is officially named (personally, I like The Trilogy Tower):
-The Oregon Trilogy-The Oregon Tower-Tower 150-The Oregon Flame-The Oregon Candle-The Oregon 150 Tower-The Trilogy Tower-Tower of Hope-Trinity Tower-The Oregon Heritage Tower
This short video (1:15 length) gives a glimpse of the beginning of the production and concert we saw opening evening of the fair. I wrote specifically about the marvelous Pink Martini in a follow-up post here, but the 234th Army Band-Oregon National Guard did a marvelous job and the four-act play "Oregon! Oregon! 2009" was super too.
Below is an excerpt from a fun article at The Oregonian describing the scene and giving some background on the play. The full article is just choice as it gives more detail about the production.
SALEM -- The line to enter Pink Martini's new show snakes past corn dog booths and elephant ear emporiums, stopping just short of the House of Decorated Cakes and Quilts.
It's twilight at the state fair, that in-between time when well-washed cows bed down for the night, families trickle home with sticky hands clutching fuzzy frogs, and a half moon appears between the spokes of the Ferris wheel.
Inside the L.B. Day Comcast Amphitheatre, middle-aged men and women, veterans and toddlers take their seats just as the national anthem stirs them back to their feet. When they get to "And the rockets' red glare," a foghorn erupts, accompanied by screams from somebody having a near death experience of being whipped into the sky on the Sling Shot.
Take your seats, folks, it's the 234th Army Band -- Oregon National Guard warming up for the main act, "Oregon! Oregon! 2009." The band swings into a musical tribute to each branch of the military, from the halls of Montezuma to the wild blue yonder. Then the lights change and the crowd settles.What is it about statehood and anniversaries that make us speak to one another in exclamation marks?
Fifty years ago, Stan Freberg, a Grammy-winning adman and radio personality, wrote a three-act show to mark Oregon's centennial -- without ever visiting the state. The musical comedy was never publicly performed, but legions of baby boomers grew up listening to the album's lyrics, "Oregon! Oregon! You beautiful state. Oregon! Oregon! Say you'll be great!"
Fifty years on, Pink Martini's leader, Thomas Lauderdale, Oregon's current Music Man, corralled his friends to update the show. They added a new fourth act and are taking it on the road to Bend, down to Jacksonville and back to the Oregon Zoo next Saturday. Friday, they opened at the Oregon State Fair.
Holy moly, is this a silly show. . .