A four-day 'Fan-Fair' Crowds come and enjoy the county’s summer tradition despite persistent blazing heat

Photos by Esther Smith

Jacob Beth gets ready to blow his watermelon seed

as Brandon Sinclair, left, Kyle Weseman, David Carter, Dan Wollam, and other spectators and contestants

watch during the watermelon seed spitting contest

at Saturday’s fair.


News staff writer

August 3, 2005

Fans were everywhere at the 2005 Hood River County Fair — fans of Juice Newton, fans of classic automobiles, fans of 4-H members and talent contestants, antiques and agile dogs. But fortunately, electric fans were also there in abundance, giving welcome relief from the heat wave that this fair will be remembered for.

“We did everything possible to keep people (and animals) comfortable,” said Clara Rice, fair manager. “The fans that were put in the gyms were a real blessing; they did what we wanted them to do — make it comfortable and nice. I wish we could have put big ones out in the field, too!”

There were fans in all the barns and small animal buildings, and a sprinkler on top of the poultry tent. Drinking water was available at various locations, but people were thirstier than expected.

“By Thursday afternoon we had used up our entire water supply, which we thought would hold us through the week,” Rice added.

Rice said that attendance and exhibits were down this year, no doubt at least partly because of the heat. But all in all, she was very pleased.

“The fair went really well,” she said. “Overall it was wonderful. We had lots of good comments and people really enjoyed the variety and the changes.”

One new feature was “Trash or Treasure,” where each fair-goer could have an item or two examined by qualified appraisers for an opinion as to its value.

“Everyone seemed to enjoy that — that was a fun thing to do,” Rice said. “The response was really popular and I’m sure we’ll have it back next year.”

Also new this year was the dog agility demonstration, led by Cascade Pet Camp. At hourly intervals Saturday, intermediate and advanced students of all levels ran an obstacle course to the delight of the fans in the audience. The dogs are classed according to size, but all run the same course.

“Only the jump heights are changed,” said Jenni Lott, owner of Cascade Pet Camp, as her “dedicated crew” set up and numbered the obstacle course. “The course has jumps, tunnels, an A-frame, teeter, tire jump, dog walk (an elevated plank), weave poles and a cloth chute (open on one end and closed on the other). And they have to do it in a certain order.”

Some of the dogs, like Flit, a Papillion belonging to Mary Jo Larsen, were novices, in their first public trial. Others, like Simon, an 8-year-old Shetland sheep dog (Sheltie) owned by Mary Crighton of The Dalles, are in the highest levels of AKC competition. And K.C., a small standard poodle, is noted for her air time.

“They call her the ‘flying poodle,’” said her owner, Carol McInnes. “When you see her jump, you’ll know why — she jumps really high! It’s not necessarily good for competition, because it hurts her time, but it’s fun to watch.”

Lott, who has been teaching agility classes and other types of dog training in the area for the past seven years, said there has never been an agility competition here, because they are huge events, with 400 or more entrants. She is building a new facility where she will offer training, grooming, boarding and day care, and it will be large enough for “fun matches” but not a regular competition.

“I don’t know of any dog that can’t do this course,” said Mary Jo Larson, who served as announcer for the event. “And there’s so much in this sport for someone who doesn’t necessarily want to go to Nationals; that’s the great thing about it.”

While the dog agility demos were going on comfortably in the well-shaded park area, the Hood River Ring Kings held a classic car show in the full sun of the football field. This year the Rod Run and Custom Car Show drew 110 cars, many more than last year. There, one could see everything from a stock 1929 Ford Model A to a 2002 Chevy Camaro. According to John Schlosser, chairman, anyone with a special interest car is welcome.

“There are no real rules about it; no classes,” he said. “All the trophies are sponsored. Sponsors pay $50 and then come to the show and award it to their favorite.”

There are two different views toward classic cars: some keep them as closely as possible to the original and others want to modify them with bigger engines, flashier paint.

Richard Akin, of Hood River, belongs to the former camp. His 1929 Ford Model A, which has been in his family for 25 years, still wears its original paint proudly; no gloss, no fuss.

“It may not be the oldest car here, but it’s got the oldest paint job, I can guarantee you that!” he laughed. “But I’ll tell you what; I have more fun driving this around as a stock car than I would as a hot rod.”

Entrenched in the opposite camp would be Larry Storment, of Hermiston, who had restored a 1955 Chevy pickup he bought for $400.

“I brought it home and my wife said, ‘What did you buy that for? It’s just an old farm truck,’” he said. “So now we call it ‘the old farm truck’.” Now every inch of the truck shines, and it boasts a ’76 Camaro engine. “I drive it everywhere I go,” Storment said.

Schlosser said there were lots of spectators with lots of questions, and several people expressed interest in joining the club.

The heat didn’t seem to faze Schlosser.

“The weather was perfect,” he said. “The hot dog vendor was busy all day long.”

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