MADRAS — Traffic moved steadily through town, and grocery store shelves were completely stocked Sunday morning in Madras.
The weekend of the total solar eclipse was looking like a dud, some locals said.
“We expected everyone to arrive earlier so it’s good that it’s finally getting busier,” said Cameron Browne, 18, of Culver. “I think now it’s going to get wild.”
Browne was in downtown Madras helping at family members’ restaurants, but the expected rush didn’t roll into town until midday Sunday.
“A lot of people were discouraged and everyone felt like they were overprepared,” Browne said.
For many local businesses, the preparation for the eclipse began months ago. The expectation of 200,000 people could have sent Madras locals home to hunker down for the weekend but instead is something that many people are embracing.
“We can’t fight it so we might as well take advantage of it,” Browne said.
Plywood and cardboard signs are posted along the length of the highway and side streets, advertising camping spots on farmland.
Many of Browne’s neighbors and local farmers are using this weekend to turn a profit, Browne said.
Other Madras residents are hosting friends and allowing them to camp on their property.
For Atilla Kovari, 56, and his wife, Susan, 55, the opportunity to cash in on a fun weekend with friends was preferable to the chance to make some quick cash.
“We’ve just been having a blast this weekend,” Kovari said. “Tonight we are going to sit at the fire or and have barbecued sea bass for dinner. We’ve just been having too much fun.”
The couple is hosting friends from Beaverton, Eugene and Bend on their 3-acre strip of land in east Madras and ventured into town without any worry, Kovari said.
“This is a bit more of what we expected,” Kovari said, motioning to the bumper-to-bumper traffic that had since been accumulating on Fourth Street through town.
As the closest convenience store to Oregon Solarfest at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, the Circle K staff has yet to feel the effects of thousands of people converging on Madras.
“We’ve had no issues,” said Teresa Donnelly, 44, manager of Circle K. “We’ve been preparing since December and we’ve been about as steady as a Fourth of July weekend.”
“Everyone coming in is very friendly,” Donnelly said. “As a community, I think 10 percent of Madras has the negativity (toward the influx in tourists). We are embracing the people from Australia and Japan and the conversations we are having. Our staff has been very excited about it.”
— Reporter: 541-617-7829, email@example.com