This week, we are in the middle of the Wallowa County Fair run. There are a number of events and activities on the schedule. Make plans this week to get over to the fairgrounds and see what’s going on.
Our editorial page this week has a bit of a county fair theme with this column, Sen. Bill Hansell’s column and Scott Hathorn’s letter to the editor.
I echo Scott’s sentiments and appreciate Bill’s recollections of the highlights of most county fairs, although not Wallowa County’s production.
For Bill, the not-to-be-missed for was elephant ears. For me, it was Indian fry bread.
There are a lot of opportunities for the fair to progress.
I know many on the fair board respond with “who is going to do all that work?” That is a legitimate question. The answer is volunteers. Create the vision, and volunteers will materialize. It’s kind of my paraphrase of “if you build it, he will come.”
No one is criticizing the fair board. What we are saying is perhaps it’s time to step to the plate and create a county fair that would attract folks who could help pay for the upkeep of the fairgrounds and other nice-to-haves.
Several people have expressed to me their surprise that the fair was not able to keep up with routine maintenance but had never put out a plea for help.
I can only answer for the Rotary Club of Wallowa County, but I can say we were never contacted. Our club is filled with guys with time on their hands who would enjoy being part of a work team to improve the fair grounds. No one asked.
This isn’t the first time this has happened. It’s almost as though there’s an aversion to putting out a plea for volunteers to keep us from losing one more thing on that long list that begins with the Enterprise swimming pool.
Maybe it’s a turf thing. Maybe it’s a control thing. I haven’t really figured that out, but it’s particularly annoying to a newspaper editor.
We have never turned down an organization that has come to us and said “do a story letting your readers know we have a problem.” And when we have, people have responded. I can cite a number of examples from the past year.
Scott mentions the carnival, another thing the county has lost over the years. Carnivals aren’t as prevalent as they once were. I checked on the Oregon Association of County Fairs website. There are five carnival vendors listed, three of them in Oregon. Seems to me one of them would be willing to make the trek over the hill.
You need only look as far as Chief Joseph Days to see the impact an army of volunteers can make on an event. Their 200 volunteers attract upward of 30,000 people into the county over five days. So let’s say the fair only utilizes 100 volunteers. Could we attract 15,000 people? That would be a dandy start.
Here’s my final thought on the matter. Everyone I know in the agricultural sector of our county tells me that telling their story is becoming more important as the threats to our way of life grow.
What better way than to bring together folks not engaged in ranching or farming and clue them in on the importance of agriculture and its role in feeding the world?
That opportunity alone should be enough to get everyone on board with being part of an expanded county fair.
See you at the fair.