The Wallowa County Fairgrounds has a long history in the history – with roots that grow back to the first county fair held there in 1907 – and now the county fair board is looking toward the fairground’s long-term future.

Many of the facilities are now aging, the grandstands need repair, and upgrades to bathrooms in the Cloverleaf Hall are in the offing.

As the fair board embarks on a strategic planning process, it is asking the public’s input – through a 10-question survey – to help put the community’s vision of the future fairgrounds into action.

Responses to the survey will help the fair board prioritize necessary upgrades and seek funding to make them happen.

County residents are asked to give their input by completing the survey, which is accessible on the Wallowa County website, www.co.wallowa.or.us/community_services/countyfair, or a copy can be picked up at the Wallowa County Fair Office, 668 NW First St., Enterprise

“The fair board requests your help as they plan for the future,” said board chairperson Brinda Stanley. “The fairgrounds and the fair are important to our community.”

Many youth, participating in 4-H and FFA, showcase their projects and livestock training abilities at the fair, the culmination of their work and responsibilities for the year. Community members of all ages enter their products in the open class exhibits. The livestock auction brings financial reward for the hard work of raising a market animal.

And then, the fairgrounds and facilities are used for many other events throughout the year. They include: Hells Canyon Mule Days, rodeos, music festivals, horse shows, banquets, fundraisers, 4-H club meetings, and private events including family reunions, receptions, and parties. During the winter months, the indoor arena is frequently used by individuals and for riding lessons.

The first County Extension Agents began in Oregon in Wallowa and Marion Counties in 1912.

John Williams, current Agricultural Extension Agent, has been here for 20 years and has many memories of the fair. He remembers stock car races held at the fairgrounds and teen dances during fair week. Some of his funniest memories during fair are about the informal water fights on Saturday mornings.

Debi Schreiber, the current 4-H Extension Agent, has been here since 1996 and oversees the 30-40 percent of 4th through 12th graders in the county who participate in 4-H. The last five years have seen an average of 180 4-H and FFA participants at the fair, with 208 showing last year. The Fat Stock Sale is always popular, with last year bringing in a record $234,067.

Arleigh Isley, Extension Agent from 1984-1993, remembers the focus on 4-H and FFA at the fair. During his tenure, the 4-H Judging Club went to the Nationals for four years, quite an accomplishment for a small rural area. He emphasizes this happened through the efforts of the leaders and a supportive community.

Since 1907, many additions of property and facilities have been made to the fairgrounds including the arena/show barn, livestock barns, food booth and Cloverleaf Hall. In 1950 a fair board was formed. The fair board, appointed by the Wallowa County Board of Commissioners operates the annual fair and manages the fairgrounds for year around use by the community.

The mission of the Wallowa County Fair Board is to “provide a safe, family oriented year-round facility, meeting the needs of the community as it relates to the past, present, and future.” Its members ask the community’s help to fulfill that mission.

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