Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
Anaka Diem, 5, with her brother, Forrest, 3, stands with her Horticulture People’s Choice selection on Thursday. The arrangement by Margaret Taylor of Hood River just happened to be voted People’s Choice winner, it was announced on Saturday. Besides being beautiful, the arrangement was interactive; the floral displays are typically “hands-off,” but Margaret attached a sign that read “For sound, gently touch chimes,” which Anaka demonstrated.
Record crowds attended the Hood River County Fair Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and the Lions were ready.
“Lions were really jumping through hoops to make sure everything got covered,” said fair manager Clara Rice.
“The fair went fantastic,” Rice said. An estimated 3,300 people attended Saturday’s headline music show by John Michael Montgomery, more than doubling the previous Saturday concert numbers.
“We had very little parking problems,” Rice said.
“It looked great and as far as I know, everything came through just the way they had planned,” she said.
Rice noted that, overall, the number of Open Class fair exhibits was fewer than past years, and acknowledged that the blue gym at Wy’east was nearly empty, with just three “commercial” vendors using the space. She said the base rental rate was raised from $250 to $300 this year, but it did not seem to affect the number of commercial vendors outside next to the midway. (The fair charges one rate for in-county and a higher one for out of county.)
“The rates didn’t have anything to do with it,” she said of the blue gym impact. “The vendors we’ve had in there were selling leaf guards, windows and remodeling, and I think they have found it just doesn’t sell at this fair.” Rice had set aside blue gym space for a large non-profit group but the activity did not pan out, leaving most of the room vacant.
The three tenants this year were Hood River County Republicans, History Museum of Hood River County (whose fee is covered by the fair) and 8-1-1 “Call Before You Dig.” Rice said that if the blue gym vendors are low in number next year, she will consider consolidating it with the Open Class displays normally in the Gold gym.
Rice said a big draw this year was the horse penning events at the Frank Herman arena. So many riders participated that the event ran out of time to do the team penning jackpot. Riders were refunded their entry fees; the issue was that the trucks and horse trailers needed to be moved from the area in time to make room for evening concert parking.
Sheriff Matt English praised the Lions’ parking management, noting that for the first time in years there were no Friday and Saturday night backups onto Wy’east and Summit roads as crowds arrived for the evening concerts and events.
“We didn’t have any backups on the road, and the crowds were able to enjoy themselves at the fair,” English said.
“The Lions did a great job. They actually opened multiple parking lots at the same time and things went pretty smoothly,” English said. (The two big changes in parking were using all lots at once, and changing the direction of flow once cars were on the grounds.)
Things were quiet once people got to the fairgrounds, too.
“It went well,” English said. “It was our biggest PR event for our office, where we get the most exposure,” he said. “It’s a rarity that there are any problems.”
English reported two arrests at the fair:
n Jose Mercado Avila, 26, Maple Road, Hood River, was arrested on the charge of unwanted physical contact, for allegedly groping an adult female while on the midway. The woman immediately contacted deputies who arrested Mercado-Avila and took him to NORCOR.
n Christopher Alan Winters, Tygh Valley, 29, was arrested and lodged at NORCOR on the charge of endangering the welfare of a minor, in this case Winters’ 8-month-old son. Charged with the same crime but released were the boy’s mother, and three other adults.
English said a deputy was making a parking lot patrol when he encountered the group allegedly using marijuana. Winters was arrested without incident.
English said the two arrests are in line with the average number at a county fair.