2013 Multnomah County Fair gets a sunny start

See why thousands of folks are flocking to Historic Oaks Amusement Park to have, as this year’s theme says it, “Nuttn’ but Fun!” during this Memorial Day weekend …

At the front gate, Volunteers Mary Knapp and Multnomah County Fair Board Secretary Frank Knapp, welcome guests to the 2013 event.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Volunteers who work all year long to keep the tradition alive were favored with sunny skies when the 107th annual Multnomah County Fair opened its three-day run on May 25.

In the Dance Pavilion at fair’s relatively new home, the nonprofit, historic Oaks Amusement Park, Multnomah County Fair Manager Cheryl Jones was all smiles as she looked out door at walkways filled exhibitors – and crowded with families.

Richard Parke shows off his award winning Floribunda rose, “Playboy”.

It’s the first pony ride for Sophie Fox.

Greeting folks at the Exhibits Display are Multnomah County Fair Manager Cheryl Jones, and silent auction helper Peggy Ball.

“This year, we have many new exhibitors and vendors,” Jones told East Portland News. “Our volunteer supervisors for the art, crafts, foods and garden, needlecraft, and photography departments all have great entries in this building.”

Outside, the “Walk on the Wild Side” exhibit – barnyard fun, with pony rides and a petting zoo – appeared to be a real hit.
And, in addition to the high quality, low-price treats sold by Oaks Amusement Park, specialty food venders abounded this year. Hickory Hog’s BBQ was turning out huge, toothsome sandwiches with so much meat, it hid the bread.

Showing off  giant, savory-smoked, 2-pound turkey legs are Noah Smith and Will Smith of Hickory Hogs BBQ. Yes, they’re for sale at the fair!

Members of area 4-H clubs Emily Cackler, with a leghorn cock; Katie Church with her Japanese bantam; Addie McMann with a white Japanese bantam; and Rowan Vasen with an Americana bantam, are each quizzed by poultry show judge Michelle Koeppe.

But, most important to her, Jones said, was that “We have a big turnout from 4-H groups! 4-H (Head-Heart-Hands-Health) groups are very important for our children.”

People who visited the 4-H area learned that the organization revolutionized how science was taught outside of the classroom more than 100 years ago. 4-H offers practical, hands-on programs and experiences.

“4-H was also one of the first organizations in America that taught young people leadership skills, and how to positively impact their communities,” commented the poultry show judge, Michelle Koeppe. “The clubs cover a wide range of skills, ranging from agricultural to home craft, and future technology skills too, including robotics.”

The World Famous Prof. Bamboozle from Bucks Prairie, Washington, performs magic – with the help of an assistant from the audience.

Xavier Watson, from the Mt. Tabor Neighborhood, finds animal friends who are ready for a handout, at the petting zoo.

Riding the spaceship are Ellie Johnson and Maddie Johnson.

But, as at all good fairs, many families were focusing of fun activities, and the presence of  the fair at The Oaks made that easy. Gales of laughter erupted from Prof. Bamboozle’s World Famous Magic Show stage, other attendees listened to live music, and many rode the many amusement rides on the midway.

“I guess you could say, this fair has just about everything,” Jones remarked – “Except for the support of the Multnomah County Commission.”

The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners washed their hands of the fair in 1994, and it’s been supported by a core group of about a dozen volunteers – and as many as 40 more who arrive to actually run the fair.

“We are self-sufficient, and I must say, we’re pretty proud of it,” Jones added. “We’re proud that we can still keep going. We thank our hosts at Oaks Amusement Park for providing such a beautiful space for this great family event.”

Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassador Kaitie Brawley hands a cone to four-year-old Marlowe Graham, with the help of Tina Klammer, at the Oregon Dairy Women booth.

Nice weather brings out thousands of folks to visit this year as the fair opens on Saturday, May 25. The three-day Multnomah County Fair concludes on Monday, Memorial Day.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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