ENTERPRISE — A holiday light display will soon turn the Wallowa County Fairgrounds into a magical wonderland of glowing and animated reindeer, candy canes, holly, snowflakes and snowmen.
The drive-through event goes from 5-8 p.m. Dec. 18 and will run nightly through Dec. 27. The event, sponsored by the Wallowa County Fair Board, is free and open to the public.
Businesses and individuals are encouraged to put up a lighted display at the fairgrounds using their own materials and be a part of the event. Participation is free.
Cars will enter the display area through a gate located across from Les Schwab, then drive around the track to view the display, exiting through a gate at the western edge of the fairgrounds onto Litch Street. After the first night, the display will be self–guided (the gates will be opened between 5-8 p.m., and the display will not be monitored).
The idea for the event has been in the works for some time, according to Debi Warnock, OSU Extension Service 4-H/FCH agent, and Tera Elliott, Wallowa County Fair manager. The inside track at the fairgrounds will be used for light displays.
“We have had a good response, a very positive response,” to the idea, Elliott said.
“I love the holidays,” Warnock said.
She said many people have fond memories as children of loading into the family vehicle in pajamas, thermoses of hot chocolate in hand, to drive around the neighborhoods looking at the light displays. Some people venture from as far away as Lewiston, Idaho, and Clarkston, Washington, to see the light displays, she said.
“The main intent is raising community spirit. The purpose is to make us happy and give us something to look forward to,” Warnock said.
The Fair Lights event received a large and generous donation of animated lights displays — and some still displays — from the family of Cherryl Zacharias. The event planners are grateful for the gift, as it will help to anchor the other displays. The planners are hoping that at least 20 businesses and individuals will put up displays.
“The displays will be family friendly,” Elliott said, “but don’t necessarily have to be related to the business.”
The first night will be special with goody bags going to the first 100 cars. Goody bags will include candy canes and other giveaways, including items from businesses and individuals who have displays should they wish to donate something. Santa will also be on hand to welcome attendees with a wave. Children can give their letters to him, but will not be able to have their pictures taken with Santa due to COVID-19 precautions. Participants will also be required to stay in their cars.
“We’re going to keep us safe within COVID guidelines,” Elliott said.
Warnock and Elliott stressed the event is free and open to the public, and there is no fee to put up a display. The intent is to make it a community event, not to be a fundraiser. Both said they hope the event will be a success and become an annual event for the holidays.
For those interested in putting up a display, an application is available at the Wallowa County Fair Board Office, located at 668 NW 1st St. Deadline for submission is Tuesday, Dec. 1. For more information, contact the fair office at 541-426-4097.