ONTARIO, Oregon — The Malheur County Fair returns this week following last year’s COVID-19 closure. Organizers are hoping for a good turnout, despite the heat and lingering coronavirus concerns.
Fairgrounds manager, Lynelle Christiani, described this year's planning process as "treading water."
“In January, February, and March, we weren’t even sure if we’re going to have a fair,” Christiani said. “We have a four-acre facility, and we thought, "Oh, we can divide into three or four zones." This discussion was with the health department and different groups within the county to see how can we safely have any kind of fair because canceling the fair last year was devastating for our community. There are so many entities that do fundraising at the fair.”
Christiani said they were told several weeks before the fair started it could continue and the team worked quickly to have it ready for the community.
“With the COVID-19 as well, I think that may still put a damper on things, but we’re going to give it our best shot and see what happens. I’m not sure what else you can do, but the community, in general, is thrilled to have it open again,” Christiani said.
Several food vendors that have set up at the fair in previous years are pleased to be back.
“Get back into what it means at the fair, enjoy all the food vendors,” said Raeshelle Meyer who runs the St. Paul Lutheran’s Church Scones booth. “We’re taking safety precautions and making sure everything is wiped down and everyone's got food handling requirements met. We’re happy to have it back. It’s fun to see the kids out here and fun to see all the people coming, seeing the community reengage in an activity.”
“I think we’re coming back to normal,” said James Collins of Awesome Blossom. “We anticipate it’s going to be a pretty good crowd here.”
Tomas Herrera and his family set up at the fair for the first time. The family sells Mexican food and snacks from corn on the cob to mangonadas. He told Idaho News 6 in Spanish he’s grateful but surprised to be at the fair because there was still uncertainty if fairs would be operating at all this year due to the pandemic.
The fair is celebrating 112 years at the Desert Sage Event Center in Ontario and will run through July 3`1 with the Fair Concert Series on July 30 at 7 p.m. For ticket information and a list of scheduled events at the fair, click here.