This year the Hood River County Fair is sticking to its usual formula for summer fun, with a few exceptions.
New to the fair, which runs Wednesday through Aug. 3, is a talent contest, expanded exhibit entry hours and a special exhibit category for out-of-towners.
Fair manager Clara Rice hopes these features will make the fair more accessible and better able to showcase local performers.
“We have so much talent in the valley, and we need to expose it,” said Rice.
After registration closed earlier this week, nine people had signed up for the talent contest, which will be held Wednesday night from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the fairgrounds’ park area. The winner will have the opportunity to travel to the state fair to compete for bigger prizes.
According to Rice, the contest is part of an effort to standardize fairs statewide by holding the same events at both the county and state level.
“We’re working to make sure everything flows both ways,” said Rice. “We’re trying to get things as uniform as we can, so people who go here can go to state and have the same experience.”
Also new this year are expanded exhibit entry hours on Monday, from 1-8 p.m. Previously, there was only a two-hour window in the evening, which Rice felt was too restrictive.
This summer, youths who are visiting the valley may enter exhibits in the fair in a separate class, and are eligible to win ribbons and cash prizes just like other fair exibitors. Youths must submit entries themselves, rather than having an adult do so.
The carnival will feature at least 18 rides this year, and Rice encouraged fairgoers to buy their ride bracelets early and save $3 off the standard $15 price. Bracelets are available at the fair office and Waucoma Bookstore, and must be purchased before 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Many outside vendors are returning for another year, and Rice praised the variety of food that will be available.
“There will be something that should please just about everyone,” said Rice.
Here is a list of pre-fair events happening this week:
* The 4-H Dog Show will be held at 8 a.m. on Saturday.
* 4-H entries will be Monday at the fairgrounds from 5-8:30 p.m. Livestock judging will be at 2 p.m., and Open Class entries for the fair happen from 1-8 p.m., including baked goods, ceramics, food preservation, hobbies, clothing-textiles and handcrafts.
* On Sunday, Open Class entries for fruits and vegetables will be from 8-10:30 a.m. Enter baked goods, ceramics, food preservation, hobbies, clothing-textiles and handcrafts between 8-10:30 a.m., and small animals between 6:30-8 p.m.
* On Tuesday, Open Class flower judging entries are from 9-11 a.m.
* A full schedule of fair events will appear in the next issue of the News. For more information, call the fair office at 354-2865.