The Faire was started by Skeeter (Michael Pilarski, Friends of the Trees Society) in 1974 to help folks be able to trade their surplus produce and goods for things they needed to help them through the winter. The first faire was near Lake Chelan because a large communal community (Antakarana Circle or Circle A.) had grown near Manson. After that first event, the Faire moved farther North into the Okanogan Highlands. Overtime, the organizers of the faire formed an unincorporated group that called itself The Barter Faire Association. As the Faire moved around, it became obvious to organizers that hauling the infrastructure was a tremendous challenge of logistics. Moving outhouses, water barrels, signs, gate houses, etc, seemed like too much work for a three day festival. Also there was the issue of finding a site that was large enough and landowners who were willing to allow this event to occur on their property.
A core group of folks decided to purchase land, thereby eliminating the need to find a willing landowner, negotiate terms of land use and move all that stuff around! The Barter Faire Association entered into a lease with an option to buy the site on the Cayuse Mountain Road in 1993. That year the first Okanogan Barter Faire was held on the current property and it was decided that this site could work for future events.
According to Washington State Law, the "Barter Faire Association" could not purchase the land. We had to create an incorporated entity recognized by the state. Thus, in 1994, the OHUG, Ltd., a Washington State corporation, was born. We chose at that time to become a 'for-profit' corporation both because it was expedient (hippies and paperwork rarely mix well) and because we didn't know what we were doing. Now we could legally enter into a contract to buy and own the Barter Faire land. However, the first hurdle facing us was, "who are the stockholders" of this Corporation? Our interpretation of "stockholders" was revolutionary. Probably for the first time in Washington History, stockholders in a "for profit" corporation existed without the exchange of cash. Our definition of "stockholders" meant those folks who volunteered 40 hours of time each year to events held on the land. Each stockholder held one share for one year. An effort was made to inform members, who volunteered all those hours; they were qualified to be stockholders. However, we garnered very little response from volunteers. Essentially, that part of the plan fell apart because no one really saw any value in exercising a stockholder's vote. People didn't have the time or energy, besides everything was working fine... The Board of Directors meet regularly, the land got paid for, noxious weed control is maintained, improvements are made and most importantly, an annual faire is held!