Rocky’s teeth, and other tales of recurring rural circuitry

Maya McCafferty with her winning doe, Masquerade.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
Maya McCafferty with her winning doe, Masquerade.

Any county fair can feel like a here-and-now experience.

Immediate sensation is found in the bright lights, appealing displays, impressive animals, tasty food, and other visual and aural delights.

But four short vignettes from the 2018 Hood River County Fair, which concluded Saturday, reveal the timeless nature of much of what happens at the fair: Feelings and experiences that reveal the connections of people to place, to love of history and family, skills preserved from childhood to adulthood, as well and creativity and hard work from one year that carry forth to the next.

The first of these recurring samples of rural circuitry is found in quilts loaned to the fair by Hood River’s Mary Neville, one employing pieces of the work shirts worn by her husband, Clarence, who died in December 2017. Teri Winston, MerryAnne Moore and Kim Benedict made the quilt for Mary in Spring 2018, “to help you know he is still near,” notes the patch on one corner of the intricate textile creation.

The other quilt loaned by Neville, a retired teacher who remains heavily involved in the community, was the one made in 1979 for the 50th anniversary of her parents, Thomas and Ada; the personalized quilt squares were made by numerous Hood River Valley families.

Pam Allen-Dean won numerous prizes in vegetables and in food preservation.

After some time away from the valley, she and her husband, Kevin, recently moved back to the family farm in Odell, which she inherited from her parents, George and Martha Allen. The place will become a Century Farm in two years.

“I’ve been doing this since I was 9, growing up with 4-H,” Allen-Dean recalled. “I grew up here and moved to Hillsboro for 30 years. There is no place like home. I’m glad to be back in Hood River,” said the five-time Queen of the Kitchen for Washington County, and two-time champion at State Fair.

Maya McCafferty, 15, of Parkdale, took home the Grand Champion prize for her goat doe, Masquerade.

“It’s the result of lot of hard work and dedication,” she said. “I spend my whole year traveling around Oregon and the Pacific Northwest showing goats and sheep, and the county fair is a point for me to get some money back and I get to help out the youth of our community,” said McCafferty, a member of the Columbia Gorge Livestock 4-H club and FFA at Hood River Valley High School. Also at fair, she showed sheep, and sold a lamb and goat, and presented on her breeding projects.

“Our family raises livestock, we breed and sell at county fair and jackpots (mini-fairs held throughout the year). We don’t really have a breeding program, but we purchase livestock and sell them and have really good relationships with our breeders, that’s how get to feed animals and breed them and get their spawn back the next year.”

Another 4-H-er was done with her cavy showmanship competition and was in the small animal barn already thinking of July 2019.

“I already showed him and all, but when I showed his teeth, he was wiggling and he wasn’t doing a really good job, so I’m practicing, for next year,” Valentina Najera, 10, of Hood River, said of her year-old American guinea pig, Rocky. With deft twists of her arms, Najera, who is with Blue Eggs and Ham 4-H group, lifted Rocky and turned him over so his teeth could be seen by the imaginary judge.

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