The Wallowa County Fair is a celebration of summer, children, hard work, and families. This year saw an extraordinary exhibit of quilts, a new roping contest for youngsters, and the continuation of many long and revered traditions, from the 4-H dog show and 4-H horse show, through Saturday’s peewee showmanship, culminating in the livestock auction’s bittersweet ending. Not even the thunderstorms that rolled through the fairgrounds could dampen spirits. One of them would have wiped out the newly-planned talent show late Friday afternoon, but no one actually entered, suggesting that either fair participants were already booked solid, or perhaps they were better long-term weather forecasters than the adults.

This year, three very talented young women comprised the Wallowa County Fair 4-H court: Quincee Zacharias, Destiny Wecks, and Dakota DeLyria. There’s little glory and a lot of hard work involved in the honor. Duties of a 4-H court member include getting up early and participating in the flag-raising ceremony, running the Bessie Bingo fundraiser, and helping to keep a number of classes, including those at the horse show, dog show, and others, organized, running on time, and helping tabulate the results. That’s in addition to the work of showing your 4-H animal. Wecks and Zacharias each raised a market hog, and each earned a reserve championship. Wecks, who also rides with the Tuckerettes at the opening of the Chief Joseph Days Rodeo, did well in the horse show. DeLyria loves the outdoors, but is more attuned to motorbikes and ATVs than horses. She spends as much time as possible on her grandparents’ property near Flora. Quincee Zacharias’ sister, Maggie, is the reigning queen of the Elgin Stampede. Quincee wants to be a veterinarian, and has zero ambition to move on from the 4-H court to a rodeo court. Destiny Wecks, however, would very much like to upgrade from Tuckerette to rodeo court, and is considering trying out for Chief Joseph Days. Whatever their bright futures hold, this year’s court has helped keep the Wallowa County Fair running smoothly.

The Pomona Grange, which includes all four grange halls in the county, recognized two people for outstanding contributions to their communities. The non-member Community Service Award went to Bev Hayward, who has played a major role in organizing and supporting the South Fork Grange’s community Thanksgiving dinner. Barb McCormack, Pomona Grange secretary, received the “Granger’s” Community Service Award for her dedication and energy. “If anyone needs anything done, they just call Bev,” Grange member June Colony said. “She’s a firecracker!”

Talluah April took home the Junior Homemaker of the year award. April excelled in cooking, baking, and canning, with blue-ribbon entries in flower arrangements, cookies, caramels, food preservation of asparagus, apricot-peach and best of show with her asparagus pickles and relishes. She also won awards, including best of show junior youth for sewing entries, and best of show for her painting of her pig, Charlie, a Hampsire-Yorkshire cross. Charlie was also entered in the fair, earning a championship and blue ribbon.

This is the 40th year that the Homemaker of the Year has been recognized at the fair. This year, the honor went to Celeste Bauck, whose grandmother, Ida Hillock, won the first award in 1979. “I live in her house, and I think of her all the time. This year, my floral entries included lilies that she planted in what’s now my yard,” she said. Bauck’s many awards included blue ribbons for peanut butter cookies, snickerdoodle zucchini bread, chocolate chip pumpkin bread, salsa, plum sauce, plum jelly, a child’s pants and shirt, a blue repurposed apron, and single plant cactus. Her peach-pit jelly, women’s wrap pants, and quilt each took best of show in their category. Bauck is a co-owner of the new quilt store that will be opening in Enterprise later in August.

The heart and soul of the fair lies in the 4-H and FFA livestock shows. Each sheep, beef or dairy animal, turkey, goat, and pig represented months of hard work and learning by each youngster, and unflagging family support. More than 200 animals were entered, with 150 going to auction at the fair’s close. Madison McDowell won FFA grand champion honors for market sheep, while Libby Fisher took reserve grand champion. In 4-H sheep, Tessa Duncan’s sheep won grand champion, and Caleigh Johnson’s lamb walked off with 4-H reserve champion.

In the market beef competitions, winning seemed a family affair. Sophie Moeller won the FFA grand champion title with her Angus steer, while Ella Moeller took reserve. In 4-H categories, Gunnar McDowell pegged the grand champion award; Mason McDowell took reserve. Hanley, Harley, Hadley, and Haley Miller each took home championship ribbons.

Market poultry may not seem a very exciting category, especially with only two turkeys filling the class. However, Shepard Newton’s 39-pound, 140-day-old broad-breasted white turkey Aro stole the show in the ring and in the auction arena with confident, fluffy, strutting displays, earning grand champion status, and $650 at auction. Gage Gordon’s turkey, at 29 pounds, was a close second, earning $600 at auction.

In market goats, Caylynn Beck took FFA grand champion and Ian Goodrich had the reserve champion goat. In 4-H, Rawley Melvin was awarded grand champion, and Lucas Goodrich took reserve.

Pigs, aka market swine, were the most popular 4-H/FFA livestock. A total of 64 made it to auction. McKenzie Keffer raised the FFA grand champion hog. Nevin Goldsmith took FFA reserve. In 4-H, Kimber Stein’s pig took grand champion. Jordyn Torres’ inquisitive and energetic gray pig earned reserve champion status.

The 2019 fair is in the books now. It was a great one. Can’t wait for 2020.

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