4-H Clubs shine at 2015 Multnomah County Fair

The fair runs through Memorial Day. See why you should plan to take your family there …

Starting hours before the 109th Edition of the Multnomah County Fair opens, American Rabbit Breeder’s Association Certified Judge Carol Green grades one of the more than 300 rabbits, brought in by owners from Oregon and southwest Washington.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

The 109th edition of the Multnomah County Fair kicked off at noon on May 23, drawing crowds of families to historic Oaks Amusement Park on the east bank of the Willamette River, just north of the Sellwood Bridge.

The savory scents of vendors preparing “fair food” treats filled air, as the Oaks Park Miniature Railroad began circling the park. Inside the Oaks Dance Pavilion, judges were finishing up attaching ribbons to the winning entries of flowers, vegetables, baking, crafts, and photography.

In the Baking Department, Kimberly Walters of the Lents neighborhood shows off her award-winning “Pig Table Setting”. “I like whimsical. There is no actual pig in the cake – it’s just fun.

Visitors stop to savor the aromas of the Floral Department display.

Friends of the Multnomah County Fair” VP Mark Thomas and President Rick Paul pause for a photo, moments before the 2015 fair officially begins.

“Back this year, the American Rabbit Breeders Association is holding a sanctioned regional show,” remarked Friends of the Multnomah County Fair President Rick Paul, as the fair’s gates opened to the public. “But for us, we’re most excited about the increased 4-H Club activity this year.”

Youngsters involved with Multnomah County’s twenty-five 4-H clubs come together at the fair, Paul told East Portland News, to show off crafts and livestock, earn awards, and socialize.

Katie Church of Corbett shows one of her chickens that will soon be on an upscale restaurant’s menu as part of the 4-H “Market Pen Project”.

The Vice-Chair of the Multnomah 4-H Leaders Association, Brenda Jamesgard, pointed out that this year, 4-H “Market Pen Project” animals are on display.

“This means that 4-H kids in the city are raising animals – currently rabbits and chickens – to be used for food,” Jamesgard said. “Jenn Louis, owner and executive chef at Lincoln Restaurant, will create a menu special for the following week from these animals, and will share the proceeds from these dinners with Multnomah 4-H.”

Partnerships like these are important, Jamesgard pointed out. “Portland became the first metropolitan city in the country to embrace 4-H with its programs in food, farming, workforce preparation, healthy living, career development, science and technology, and positive youth development.

“Yet, since 2003, unlike almost every county in the nation, the Multnomah 4-H program receives no county support for our programs – which involve more than 400 kids.”

Isabel Kendall shows her Pygora goat named “Oakleaf”, raised at her urban backyard farm.

In the animal display area, 4-H Club member Isabel Kendall said she was glad to be part of the organization.

“The best thing about being involved in 4-H for me,” Kendall said, “is being able to learn all about the animals we keep.

“But more than that, it’s giving back to the community by teaching the public things that they may not know,” explained Kendall. “I have a backyard farm; it’s great to be able to present to the public what it’s like, from my perspective, to raise crops and animals in your backyard, and how fulfilling it really is.”

Providing an upbeat soundtrack for the fair is Fadedblue, who rocks out on the Oaks Park Main Stage.

Tan Deewicharn and Yung Nguyen from Sunee Thai & Lao cook Southeast Asian delicacies.

Taking a ride on the Oaks Park Giant Slide are Janiah Wack and Makayla Elder.

“Going to a county fair is a wonderful family activity,” the Fair’s President Rick Paul smiled. “Fairgrounds are secure, safe places for families to go and enjoy themselves. And here, we are fortunate to be hosted again this year by historic Oaks Amusement Park, a place where it is safe for kids to have fun and not have to be in tow by their parents.”

He, and all of those on the Board and involved with Friends of Multnomah County Fair, are volunteers, Paul commented. “Our County Commissioners are the exception, within the state of Oregon, when it comes to supporting the fair.”

But, all of the volunteers – from the Board, to exhibit managers and judges – donate their time and energy to the annual project for simple, altruistic reasons. “We do this because it’s important. We think our kids and families deserve this, and should have this kind of experience.”

From “mild to wild”, the rides are running this weekend at Oaks Amusement Park.

Back again at this year’s Multnomah County Fair, Professor Bamboozle starts another rollicking free magic show.

Dance students with “Kapa Dance Theater and Music” kick up their heels.

The Multnomah County Fair continues on May 24, and Memorial Day, May 25, from noon until 7:00 p.m. You’ll enjoy the Racing Pigs, be amazed by the magical Professor Bamboozle, shop among the many vendors, and enjoy lunch or dinner.

It’s everything a County Fair should be – and the admission is free. Plenty of free parking is available, too; and the Oaks Amusement Park rides and attractions are available at prices much lower than you’ll find at carnivals and the downtown fair.

Nonprofit “The Oaks Amusement Park” is located at the foot of S.E. Spokane Street in Sellwood, just north of the Sellwood Bridge. Take Oaks Park Way north, just west of the railroad tracks. For more information, see their website: CLICK HERE.

> On our Front Page: Camille Hildum of Corbett shows her Alpine/Nubian cross goat named “Amazon”

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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