We went to Oregon Country Fair on Saturday. My main purpose was to get a pair of hand-made boots. While taking loads of photos of the costumed revelers, I had a great time with my grandkids, daughters and significant other. Oregon Country Fair 2009 was a bit colder than the last time we went (about ten years ago). My gal had purchased two pairs of boots back then made by Hank Zander of Happy Feets (Dillard, Oregon) and she really liked them, so I thought it was time for me to get a pair. My feet get really cold in the wintertime, and I asked him for some boots that would be warm when worn with thick socks–I don’t like shearling-lined boots as my feet get too hot in them, typically. We settled on boots made of moose hide, with bear leather toes and heels, in a light color with a foamy sole with some good traction. When they come in (probably Sep-tober or No-cember, according to Hank) I will post a photo of them here.
Truly good hand-crafted shoes are not cheap, I discovered, but one guy wandering by the booth while I was being fitted, said that he had owned the pair he was wearing, made by Hank, for 25 years and he was still on the original soles. They still looked great.
This is a photo of one of the other customers being fitted for a pair of knee-high boots.
My gal took this photo of the guy doing the fitting on my boot. Basically they start by having you put on an old, thin sock, and then they wrap your foot in duct tape, carefully cut and marked so they can avoid putting any seams over protruding bones or joints or corns. Hank has a couple of apprentices who do the marking, but they seemed to be pretty good at what they were doing. They have to cut it off of your foot when they are done, since it is very form-fitting.
We spent all day at the Oregon Country Fair, where the food is quite good, and came home tired beyond belief. I think we walked about 5 miles as it is very spread out and we saw just about everything.
The best thing about the fair was the friendly people, many of them costumed or face or body painted, and the spirit of play and whimsy that was evident everywhere.
It never got hot enough to raise the clouds of dust that I remembered from our visit to OCF ten years ago — it was overcast all day and the temperature was perfect.
That meant there were lots of people wandering around in body paint and not much else.
I’ve posted a lot of photos on Flickr – Click this link and youl’ll find one of them (may not show up for a few days, according to Flickr).
Flickr Oregon Country Fair photos
Here are a few I thought were worth sharing here on my blog:
Can you put me in touch with Hank Zander. I met him in the early 70’s in Placerville, CA when he was moving to Oregon. I did him a small favor and in return a few months later he sent me a pair of Elk Neck boots and a vest, which I still have. He is truly a great artist.
PO Box 503
Dillard, Oregon 97432
I received my mocassin/boots on Christmas Eve. Thanks, Hank Zander – they are beautifully made, one of a kind shoes. A bit tight on the first day, of course, but I look forward to them stretching out a bit and I couldn’t be more pleased.
Hi, Did you post a photo of your boots? I would love to see them? I am looking for a pair of handmade boots. Thanks!
Hi, Cathy –
No- I never took a picture of them. I completely forgot. Then I wore them every day for nearly a year, washed them several times, and they have held up fairly well. I will wash them again fairly soon (it’s a process involving saddle soap and a brush, and it takes a couple of days for them to dry) and take a picture of them when they are clean and happy-looking. Right now, they look kind of sad. I’ll try to remember to post a picture of them after the next washing.
Known Hank for many years! He was a very good friend’s teacher at one time – Paul Merriam. Glad to hear that he’s still making Moccasins Etc…! If you talk to him, please tell him Gracie’s Daughter, Nancy said hello and that I unfortunately lost touch with our mutual friend Andy Roberts. He’ll know.
This post is from 2009 – ten years ago. I don’t know if Hank is still hanging in there. Best of luck to you.