County Fair: Go to Odell, and enjoy

You don’t find many of them: A county fair that happens mostly on grassy grounds.

That’s just one reason to attend the annual Hood River County Fair in Odell this hot Oregon week, July 25-28.

This is where neighbors show neighbors what they can do, where adults and kids put forward their best agricultural, livestock and artistic efforts.

The barns and display buildings often get bypassed for the relative glitz of the carnival rides and musical events.

But what is the heart and soul of the fair is seeing the animals kids have raised, the flowers and vegetables local gardeners have grown, and the paintings and woodwork the artists among us have created.

This year’s theme, “Rides, Games and Country Things” sort of takes it all in and it mostly happens on the expansive, grassy grounds that are also host to a large variety of local food and commercial vendors, and ample parking.

If you do check out such attractions as the floral arrangements, textiles, hobbies and handicrafts, and community baked goods, you’ll find them sharing spaces as never before, because the seismic upgrade project at Wy’east Middle School makes the interior inaccessible this summer.

That tighter arrangements mean fairgoers will need to move carefully among more tables and display surfaces, noted Anne Holmstrom, the 35-year superintendent of the 4-H building, which this year shares its space with open class hobbies and handicrafts and art.

“It’s actually a really nice combination,” is how Holmstrom described it.

Parking, meanwhile, tends to come at a premium at peak times such as Saturday afternoon and evening, so plan ahead. But there is plenty of parking, coordinated by the Lions groups, in the fairgrounds’ main parking areas inside the gate and to the west of the fairgrounds parking lot on Wy’east Road. Overflow parking will also be available north of the fairgrounds.

A few other fair notes to remember:

Depending on when you read this, it’s not too late for the discount ride bracelet, available at the fair office and local businesses for $20 until 5 p.m. July 25 ($25 after that.)

July 26 is seniors day, with reduced admission of $5.

A new event has been added that is sure to please: An equestrian drill team from Portland, performing July 25 at 7:30 p.m., along with the dancing horse show.

The other exciting part of these horse events is that they will happen under the newly-installed lights on Frank Herman Arena, expanding the ability of the fair to stage the increasingly-popular equestrian activities. We refer to the ranch sorting, youth calf roping and other clinics and competitions happening Thursday through Sunday.

For this and other essential details, consult the fair book.

Other key events include the 4-H and FFA livestock auction, July 27 — at a new time, 4:30 p.m. — a splendid opportunity for businesses and individuals to show their support for local youth and their farm enterprises in bidding on animals from geese on up to steers.

Noche Hispana will be July 27 with music from Faraones Del Norte at 7:30 p.m. and La Tropa Chicana at 9:30 p.m.

On July 28, the newly-awarded Gorge band Brewers Grade (see page A3) takes the main stage at 7 p.m., with headliner Craig Morgan performing at 8:15 p.m.

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