Dozens stopped by Central Park on Sunday afternoon for the May Day Solidarity Fair, possibly the first local observance of International Workers’ Day in recent years.
Lisa Gonzales, one of the event’s organizers, said the five-hour fair aimed to “honor the labor that we do.”
International Workers’ Day, or May Day, has its roots in labor union rights demonstrations that began in the late 19th century, but Gonzales, who’s affiliated with Occupy Corvallis and International Workers of the World-Corvallis, said the fair wasn’t necessarily a union event.
“We were envisioning something to bring the community together,” she said.
Rather than holding it on Tuesday, May 1 — when International Workers’ Day, or May Day, is traditionally observed — organizers hoped to make the fair more family-friendly by scheduling it for a Sunday.
Representatives from 24 different groups, including local labor unions, social justice organizations and the Corvallis, Oregon State University and Portland occupy movement, set up informational booths at the fair.
In addition, the fair featured musical acts, small discussion groups, an exhibit on the labor movement’s history and hands-on activities. As a take on the originally pagan observance of May Day in northern Europe, the fair’s organizers also set up a solidarity maypole, where attendees could write their thoughts about labor on scraps of cloth and attach it to the pole.
One booth featured a 4-foot-tall multicolored sculpture of an ear, constructed by Occupy Corvallis members for their Radical Listening Project.
The new project aims to collect public feedback on various topics in a comfortable setting, said Grace Noel, who’s affiliated with Occupy Corvallis.
“This is our attempt to try and have a forum to speak to us,” Noel said.
Noel and Karen Josephson asked participants several open-ended, labor-related questions, including “What does solidarity mean to you?” The two recorded answers from those willing to participate, and the group planned to archive the answers for future program planning.
Chrissy Dashiell of Corvallis brought her two children — Ella, 3, and William, 2 weeks — to the fair. She thought the event was a good way to learn more about the community, and Sunday’s partly sunny skies made a good excuse to spend time outdoors.
“We’ll have to play over there at some point,” Dashiell said, nodding to the park’s nearby playground.
Contact Gazette-Times reporter Gail Cole at 541-758-9510 or email@example.com.