Oregon Fringe Festival kicks off in Ashland

ASHLAND, Ore.- The Oregon Fringe Festival kicked off the afternoon of April 24.

Every year, Southern Oregon University puts on the Oregon Fringe Festival (O.F.F.). Russell Copley, Director of the festival, says it’s a multi-day event featuring artists expressing the creative spirit through different types of displays. According to George Butterick and Maryellen McGinnis, Theater Producers for O.F.F., this is the 11th year of the festival and it’s never been bigger in Oregon.

“From last year, we’ve nearly tripled the size of the festival,” McGinnis said.

“So many places have opened up their venues for us and we’re very, very grateful to be using their space and to be reaching out more into the community,” Butterick added.

Copley says this festival is free and for everyone. He says the goal of Fringe is to reconnect the community to art on a more personal level.

“When you think about it, the art landscape today is an expensive landscape,” Copley said, “if we can recreate a world where the community actually has the art living in the spaces that we all share and that we can participate, we will be a healthier society.”

Copley says he really depends on these students and the great work they put in. This year the festival has 97 events with about 300 participants. Butterick says he loves all the different types of art people are bringing in.

“My favorite thing about Fringe is the way that it brings things that would be on the outskirts of the kind of, art scene and brings them more into the spotlight for one week,” Butterick said.

One of the performers is David Smith, who performed a story piece called “Angels at the Curtain Call”. Smith says his goal was to make that real, in-person connection with his audience, as they’re all a part of the same community.

“Connection’s the most important thing we have in the world,” Smith said. “If I could say something and make you laugh, that’s connection. If I can see that people are crying in the audience, that’s connection.”

Copley hopes people will recognize the importance of this festival in the way it connects the community. He hopes people will help sustain the festival’s future.

“We are asking for donations,” Copley said, “send us anything, anything. Just show us that you love the idea that there can be a free festival in the Rogue Valley and help us build the momentum so that we can reproduce next year.”

You can see the festival’s schedule and find out more information by going to the Oregon Fringe Festival’s website.

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NBC5 News Reporter Lauren Pretto grew up in Livermore, California and attended University of California, Santa Cruz, graduating with a double major in Film/Digital Media and Literature with a concentration in Creative Writing. Lauren is a lover of books, especially Agatha Christie and Gothic novels. When her nose isn't buried in a book, she knits, bakes, and writes.
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