OLD AGOURA REUNION 1999

by Mike Schmidt

As soon as the wedding reception was over, we tore off our tuxedos, speeded out of the Calabasas Inn, and by 4:30 we were rushing onto the Parkway Calabasas onramp hoping beat the sunset over Agoura.

We practically sprinted through the western set and what was once ground zero, onto the old Faire site, greedy to drink up every precious second left to us before he sun went down.

It's empty now: no stages, no booths, no banners or flags. The trails and paths mostly covered in weeds and grass or plowed under when the stages came down - But it was Agoura; where love and magic and art combined like threads of a tapestry that will never be duplicated, and it's memory seared into the psyche of all who ever visited this place.

It's been more than ten years since I was here last; it felt good to be home.

Home, yes. But it wasn't until we stood atop the hill overlooking the panorama of the Faire proper - you know, where the chocolate booth and the bee hives once stood - that the ghosts started haunting me.

It started with the scent of chocolate and the sound of phantom honeybees; then came faces and voices - slight echoes of moments that I didn't even know that I remembered.

Did so many moments happen to me on this hill when I wasn't paying attention? It's funny what we do remember: we struggle to remember names and faces, but it's the moments that we truly take with us. And we never know which moments will resonate with us and be our daydreams of the future. Many of my daydreams today were born on this hill and connecting the dots between my daydreams with the moments that created them makes me smile. So, knowing that this hill is just the edge of an arc full of memories, I descended the hill, eating the memories as they came to me like candy.

We went down into the site and saw a lot of old friends, like Billy Scudder, David Springhorn, Jack Tate and the like. More than friends because we had shared this place together. There is a kindridship that was born here that transcends family. We are all a part of the tapestry.

Steve wandered off, lost in his own memories. I didn't even notice. I saw children playing and laughing, drummers drumming, and of course, the ghosts. There were more of them here. Thick throngs of them, some in costume, some not; but all were laughing with the joys of life because they were not dead here. Not with us here to keep them alive.

I staggered through waist high grass and stood where Ale Three and Main stage used to be and watched the ghosts for a while. This seemed to be a focal point of some kind of energy. It was hard for me to stand there very long.

Worked my way to Witches Wood, passing old friends along the way. When I got there, my God, it was beautiful. It's over grown now, and there is very little left to show that there was ever a Faire here at all. It took a little bit to get my bearings, but this was the center of my Faire. Kate Price would be at this cross road, over there was Barton's booth where Elizabeth stood in her powder blue dress, I leaned against this tree every day as I listened to Kate. Just touching that tree made me want to laugh because nothing had changed, and weep because everything had.

My ghostly memories were thickest here. Do you remember how hundreds of people would just start running for no reason at all? "Wheat Checks, Rice Checks, Butt Checks!?" Dirty Jack? Drench-A-Wench? There was a sense of unpredictability here, a sense of danger and wildness that no other place in the world has - Not even Novato.

Wandered for a while looking at stone remnants of booths I couldn't even remember, but I had to stand on them. Touch them. I don't know why. Maybe simply because they meant something at one time. As if I was visiting the graveyard of my family, and these were the headstones. I don't know.

Finally sat in the mud where the Turkey leg booth used to be, looked down at the Faire site, listened to the drums and laughter, and shed a few tears. This was the Faire - and this will always be the Faire.

What I realized is that the memories and magic of Agoura have the genesis of pure art. Art leaves a residue, it's nonlinear and tickles the subconscious.

Today in Agoura gives me hope that when the world gets me down, or I feel lost and in the worng century, I can still come here from time to time, sit in the dirt and feel these things that kept me coming to Faire year after year. The Magic, The Love, The Moments that will always be Agoura to me.

 

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