Summer in Oregon brings heat, sweet corn, home grown tomatoes and juicy watermelon. It’s also the season for county fairs.
Summers in Southeast Alaska revolve around salmon fishing and tourism, so I haven’t been to a community fair in twenty years. Since we bought our Oregon farm I have a great excuse to go and see fair animals. The twelve mules grazing at Mule Springs will be leaving when their grazing rights run out in late fall, so I’m looking for another type of farm animal. What better place to see pigs, sheep, donkeys, and goats than at the county fair. Plus the animals here are the most trainable and gentle breeds, since children raise them for their animal science projects.
The video shows a girl preparing her prized sheep for the show ring while children’s goats wait patiently in their pens for a turn in the arena. Pigs and poultry are also popular “learn by doing” 4H projects, but this year only four pens hold cows. These projects teach kids animal management skills and responsible caretaking.
Children outside the poultry barn show off their tame chickens, and an exhibitor offers five gentle guinea pigs for fair visitors to pick up and hold.
Photography is by far the largest exhibit in the exhibition hall, but few baked goods are on display. In the 1930s mothers across the county would have entered their secret cake recipes and berry pies in the fair, but people don’t make time to bake desserts and breads like they use to.
The newest event at the fair is a sheep rodeo called “Wool Busters,” and it’s for kids weighing less than 60 pounds. A four-year old boy wearing chaps shoots into the ring through a gate the announcer has just opened, and the boy is riding a sheep. As long as they have their parents’ permission the kids can ride alone, or the child can choose to have helpers hold the sheep as he or she rides the length of the arena. The ring floor is padded with thick sawdust, and when the unaided tykes “hit” the dust, as they invariably do, they don’t get hurt. They do receive a warm round of applause and lots of hooting from onlookers.
This video gives you a little taste of what I saw at the Hood River County Fair, and the music is old time fiddle music—the type of music Bruce and I play. The tune you will hear is Call Me Shorty by Martha Scanlan.
Author’s Note: I’m so happy I figured out how to create a slideshow with music! Thank you Leese for inspiring me to do this, and thanks Tim for giving me instructions! I’m not sure how wordpress uploads video, so if you have a slower connection speed, I’d be interested to know if the video works for you.
Question: Does your area have a county fair? What is your favorite display, event, or part of your local fair?