Enchanted Forest: The next generation arrives

Road Journals Blog—At its heart, Enchanted Forest is a family affair, with two of founder Roger Tofte’s daughters and several grandchildren involved in day-to-day operations at the park.

One grandson, 23-year-old Derek Vaslev, who has worked everything from customer service to park maintenance, is following in his family’s footsteps by adding his own artistic vision to the mix. In this case, it’s the Great Idea, a free-form indie music festival featuring more than 40 bands performing informal sets throughout the park, which Vaslev launched in 2010 with the help of three friends.

Lexxi Vexx goes acoustic at last year's Great Idea festival.

Before getting the green light, of course, Vaslev had to pitch the idea to his grandfather and his mother, Susan, who in similar fashion during the early 1970s convinced her father to launch the comedy theatre at Enchanted Forest.

It took some cajoling, said Vaslev, but ultimately it worked.

“Eventually they embraced it,” he said. “They just had to warm up to the idea. I think my mom was just happy that nothing got broken, that people showed up. We had a good turnout for the first year.”

Music was a natural way for Vaslev to extend his own creativity into the theme park. His rock band, Ride Operator, is made up of friends who have all worked at Enchanted Forest at one time or another.

“Salem doesn’t have much of a music scene in general,” he said. “This was our way to bring people together and show what we have to offer.”

More than 300 people attended, many of whom are not in Enchanted Forest's primary demographics. For Vaslev, that’s precisely the point.

“It brings in a bunch of people who wouldn’t normally come here,” he said. “And visitors get to hear a different style of music that they wouldn’t normally hear.”

The Great Idea takes place this year on Aug. 5.

Have you attended an event at odds with its surroundings? Tell us!

Rachel Bucci's Q&A with Enchanted Forest founder Roger Tofte ran in the March/April Oregon issue of VIA.

This blog post was first published in March 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.