The Hood River County Fair gets a little cozy this year.
The annual event returns to Hood River County Fairgrounds in Odell July 25-28, with events and attractions ranging from art and horticulture exhibits, equestrian competition, and country music star Craig Morgan on the main stage for the traditional closing concert.
This year’s theme is “Rides, Games and Country Things” and the expansive, grassy grounds host carnival rides and games, animal attractions, a large variety of local food vendors and ample parking.
Buildings will feature art, photography and craft exhibit entries from locals of all ages — but with a tighter layout than people are accustomed to.
The gym at Wy’east Middle School is unavailable because it is undergoing seismic retrofit. That means hobbies and handicrafts, art, ceramics and other exhibits will be moved into the 4-H, Floral and Community buildings.
“We’ve had to do a lot of consolidating,” Fair Manager Clara Rice said. “Everyone so far has worked great together to get it pulled in there.
“We knew about it last year, and I was able to talk to people about it last year and let them know and start thinking because it was going to change,” she said. Some of the inside vendors had to decline to participate this year if they could not set up outdoors.
“We don’t get the booth costs which come into us, but you do what you have to do,” Rice said.
What is available at Wy’east is parking; last year, the east lot was closed due to school construction, but is open this year, along with the fairgrounds’ main parking areas inside the gate and to the west of the fairgrounds parking lot on Wy’east Road. Overflow parking will be available north of the fairgrounds.
Carnival ride bracelets are $20 when purchased in advance — until 5 p.m. on July 25 — or $25 after that. Find them at the fair office and at Mid Valley Market, Jim’s Market, McIsaac’s, Columbia State Bank, Hood River Supply and La Michoacana in The Dalles.
Daily admission is $10 for adults and $5 for ages 6-12; kids under six get in free. Gates are open 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
July 26 is seniors day, with admission $5.
Fair gate admission does not include ride tickets or bracelets.
A new event, scheduled too late for the fair book, is an equestrian drill team from Portland, performing July 25 at 7:30 p.m., along with the dancing horse show, under the newly-installed lights on Frank Herman Arena. Ranch Sorting happens July 26 with a clinic at 4 p.m. and competition at 7:30 p.m. The event repeats July 28 (clinic at 9 a.m., competition at noon).
Key events include:
4-H and FFA livestock auction, July 27 — at a new time, 4:30 p.m.
Noche Hispana on July 27 — music from Faraones Del Norte at 7:30 p.m. and La Tropa Chicana at 9:30 p.m.)
July 28, the Gorge band Brewers Grade takes the main stage at 7 p.m., with Craig Morgan performing at 8:15 p.m. He’ll perform singles from his new album, “A Whole Lot More,” as well as country fan favorites, “That’s What I love About Sunday,” “Bonfire” and “International Harvester.”
Bring a blanket and cozy up on the lawn in front of the stage or grab a seat in the bleachers for a premium view of the bands.
Stilt walker comedian Michael O’Neill and puppet master Tim Guigni are new this year; and tribute artist Kimberly Hall performs Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac songs. Godfrey the Musician returns, along with Pirates and Parrots, and the Exotic Animal Show. Numerous vendors will serve lunches and dinners next to the midway and provide information, fun games and prizes.