MADRAS — The Jefferson County Fairgrounds was a ghost town Tuesday, compared to the liveliness of the past few days when thousands of people from around the world came to view the total solar eclipse.
Organizers of Oregon SolarFest, held at the fairgrounds, were concerned that a mass of humanity like that would leave a sea of garbage spread across the grounds.
But as it turned out, trash was minimal the day after the eclipse. Oregon SolarFest staff and volunteers on Tuesday found garbage neatly placed in or near waste containers, which made it easier to haul to the dumpsters.
Sandy Forman, a co-owner of the Jefferson County Tourism Group, which hosted Oregon SolarFest, said organizers planned ahead to handle all the garbage. A crew was brought in during the festival to just focus on clearing the trash, while another crew kept the bathrooms cleaned.
“We had a garbage plan put in place, and I think our plan is handled,” Forman said. “Walking on these grounds, it’s immaculate.”
A group of Madras High School students were a part of the clean-up effort at the fairgrounds. They went around collecting the bags of garbage, then threw the bags into a dumpster.
Kyle Brooks, 17, entering his senior year, said he thought the mess was going to be worse, especially in the camping sites.
“Way worse,” he said.
The Solartown camping site on the north end of Madras and the Madras Municipal Airport — home to Solar Port, where people in more than 300 RVs and 1,300 campsites converged for the eclipse — also had minimal trash Tuesday.
Mary Ellen Wheeler, who manages the Bi-Mart in Sisters but helped out this week at the Madras Airport, said she expected to spend the entire day Tuesday picking up garbage. Instead, she and airport employees were able to relax and switch gears for this weekend’s air show.
“We were prepared to go down this morning and start cleaning up, but everything was bagged and stacked right around the dumpsters, clean and nice,” Wheeler said.
Over the past weekend, Wheeler met people at Solar Port from all over the world, including China, Norway and England. She said it was a stunning sight to see a total of 412 planes fly in and out for the eclipse — the most ever at the airport.
All the work to host the thousands of visitors, was worth it when the moon blacked out the sun for more than two minutes Monday morning, leaving everyone speechless.
“It was just dead silence,” Wheeler said. “When totality hit, you could hear the oohs and aahs out of everybody. It was absolutely amazing.”
— Reporter: 541-617-7820, firstname.lastname@example.org