Scene & Heard

Earthdance returns for 25th anniversary

Photo provided – Underground Legends ‘Indubious’ will be performing at Earthdance.

You could say that Veneta will have 75 years worth of reasons to sing and dance and celebrate with the 25th anniversary of Earthdance and the 50th anniversary of The Field Trip in Veneta.

The Earthdance festival, from June 17-19, features Melvin Seals and the Jerry Garcia Band. This will be the first event at the new venue called Havenroot. 

Earthdance is an international movement that envisions a world of communities joining in a common goal of global unity, collaboration and evolution toward a culture of peace through music, dance, prayer, and activism. 

OK, readers, we’d love to hear from you if you attended – or even remember – The Field Trip at the Old Country Fair in Veneta in 1972. 

Let me refresh your memory. It was a three-day music festival in late August featuring the Grateful Dead. The complete Aug. 27 show became a popular documentary film, “Sunshine Daydream,” which was re-released in 2013 as a remastered DVD version. 

The show was a benefit for the Springfield Creamery. The concert was emceed by Merry Pranksters Ken Kesey and Ken Babbs. The Dead played well into the night after an opening set by the New Riders of the Purple Sage. In 2004, the New Riders’ performance was released as an album called Veneta, Oregon. 

“We only charged $3 to get in,” Sue Kesey said in a 2003 interview. Kesey owned the creamery along with her husband, Chuck, who was Ken’s brother. Ken, a noted author who wrote “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” died in 2001. He was 66.

“The Grateful Dead ended up giving us $10,000. So we were able to keep the creamery operating.”

 It was money well spent.

Chuck started cooking yogurt, experimenting with various bacteria, natural sweeteners and fruit from Oregon orchards and farms. He believes Springfield was the first U.S. creamery to use live acidophilus cultures in its yogurt. It’s among the bacteria known as probiotics, believed to aid in digestion and possibly stimulate the immune system and prevent infection. 

Today, Chuck and Sue’s creation – “Nancy’s Yogurt” – is one of the nation’s hottest sellers. They’ve enjoyed making memories together, especially during those Prankster days. 

“By ’82 the Grateful Dead were a much larger and well-known band,” Sue said. “It took much more energy and work to deal with them, there were opening acts … a lot of people had a hand in making that show happen.” 

Since it was becoming a 10-year tradition, the Keseys planned a special 3-day Grateful Dead camping extravaganza in 1992.

“I got a call less than two weeks before the concert that Jerry was very ill, and couldn’t play for the next 3-4 months,” Sue said. “We refunded all the money, and there was a lot of money that we took a loss on that the Grateful Dead reimbursed us for. They were incredibly generous.”

It’s a good thing that these 25- and 50-year anniversary events are about to happen now. But it’s still a far cry from 1972. 

“There had been talk of a 2002 concert,” she said. “But the people we did this for are gone. Ken is gone. Jerry Garcia is gone. There’s no real need for us to keep doing this.”



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