Salem, Oregon Celebrates Its First Pagan Pride Day (2012)
Article ID: 15219
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Incense Dragon [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: October 21st. 2012
Times Viewed: 1,964
Sponsored by: Heart of Willamette Pagans
Location: Pringle Park, Salem, Oregon, USA
Event Date(s): October 6, 2012
October 6, 2012 started as a beautiful autumn morning as the Pagans began to quietly gather in Pringle Park near downtown Salem, Oregon. By 10:00 AM, the park was filled with vendors, ritualists, drummers, Pagans of all descriptions, and curious non-Pagans from around Western Oregon. The weather remained clear and, frankly, perfect throughout the entire day as some friends met for the first time and others renewed old friendships.
I have attended a number of Pagan Pride Days (PPD) in a variety of states. I have even helped to organize PPDs and a wide variety of other events (Pagan and otherwise) . I have to tip my hat to the community in Salem for an impressive first PPD. It was surprising to me that it took until 2012 for Salem to host a PPD, but it is not a city where public rituals are common. Some said nobody would come because Salem Pagans “don’t do public”. Well, they were wrong!
Throughout the day, a steady stream of Pagans and the Pagan-curious visited with vendors, got massages, watched or participated in rituals, and came inside for workshops. There were few slow periods. There was always something to do. If this were Salem’s 5th annual PPD, I would have still been impressed with the level of organization and sheer size of the event. For a first-ever event, I was blown away.
Although I was not on the committee who executed such wonderful organizational plans, I do know them and helped, in my own tiny way, raise money for the event. Oh, I wish I could take credit for organizing this event. The number of vendors was impressive and rivaled many better-established PPDs I have attended. The Pringle Building was filled with vendors (a dozen or so inside the building) and workshop space for 2 tracks of programming. That simply wasn’t enough space for all of the vendors who wanted to attend. The rambling grounds around the building hosted twice as many vendors as inside. There were also a variety of informational booths scattered throughout the grounds.
There was still space for drummers, puppet shows, dramatic readings, and rituals. I was honored to be invited to call the Eastern quarter for main ritual and the number of people who participated once again impressed me. It was a quite large circle in the heart of Salem! The ritual was beautifully written and drew together the energies of diverse and hidden Pagan communities into a single voice offering words of hope, peace, and unity. Yet the ritual was also very accessible to those who had never seen Pagan’s in practice before.
After 8 hours of fun and friendship, the break down process began. It was wonderful to see how many people remained for the closing ritual, but it was even nicer to see strangers wandering through the crowd to offer help to vendors and presenters to tear down their tents and pack up their vehicles for the trip home.
Pros: There isn’t much more I can add to the praise I have already heaped on this event. It was wonderfully organized. The coordinators responded well to the inevitable snags that arise during any event. Vendors were smoothly relocated when requested, extra equipment was available for presenters who may have forgotten something, a snack bar was manned (and womanned!) throughout the entire event, workshops were announced throughout the significant park area, information booths abounded, and it seemed there was always a helpful staffer within reach. The underlying organization was the real star on this day. A group of dedicated people with solid, energetic leadership ensured that this was an amazing day for the rest of us. The venue was excellent – centrally located, large enough to handle the crowd but still intimate enough to keep everyone connected, and it was a location with great energy, surrounded by moving water. The weather was absolutely perfect all day – the deities were truly smiling on this event.
Cons: While I always say that no event is perfect, this one was mighty close. I really have to disregard the fact that this was a first year event to find cons. There were a few delays in the start times of some scheduled events. The snack bar had no hot food. Aren’t those pretty pathetic cons? Perhaps the only real issue I saw during the entire day would be some miscommunications with some of the vendors about locations of booths and the scramble to get power and water to where it was needed. In a more mature event, I would expect clearer communication with the vendors and also for most of the vendors to be more familiar with the venue.
If this were an established Pagan Pride Day, I would give this event a rather high rating (from me) of 4 out of 5 stars. When I consider that this was a newly formed group of organizers doing a first event in a city known for the reclusiveness of the Pagan community, I have to give this event 4.9 out of 5 stars. It’s virtually impossible, from the outside looking in, to imagine much that could have gone better at a first-year event.
Congratulations, Salem! Your community stepped up and came together impressively to make a nearly perfect day. I am so glad that I was able to attend and participate. I am eager to hear the plans for next year but I can wait. The organizers have definitely earned some rest!
Location: Corvallis, Oregon
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