‘Friends’ continue making Multnomah County Fair a hit

You can see for yourself why families, from all over outer East Portland, came to this annual springtime county fair …

Families enjoy seeing the 4-H Club farm animals on exhibit on opening day of the 2018 Multnomah County Fair.

Story and Photos by David F. Ashton

The 112th year of the Multnomah County Fair kicked off its opening day on Saturday, May 26 – again breaking attendance records.

Families from all over the region came to historic Oaks Amusement Park for a day of safe and inexpensive family fun. They came to see the craft and garden exhibits, 4-H Club presentations, and critters – and to enjoy the carnival rides.

Across the nation, attending the local county fair is a must for families. And, thanks to a group of volunteers, that tradition in Multnomah County has continued uninterrupted since 1906.

Students of Kappa Dance Music & Theater show their terpsichorean skill.

Many folks take in “Exhibiter’s Row” at the 2018 Multnomah County Fair.

With the help of dedicated volunteers, the fair again thrives, says Friends of Multnomah County Fair President Larry Smith.

You see, when the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners “washed their hands” of their own fair in 1994 – apparently hoping no one would notice – a nonprofit group called “Friends of the Multnomah County Fair” (FMCF) took on the responsibility of continuing the annual event.

“The County Commissioners even ‘gave away’ their fairgrounds to Metro, leaving us without a home,” recalled FMCF President Larry Smith

“Fortunately, the fair has been welcomed with open arms by nonprofit Oaks Amusement Park – and they continue to be wonderful partners,” smiled Smith.

While local county officials may consider the Multnomah County Fair to be anachronistic, it’s still relevant in society today, Smith assured East Portland News.

Some of the best “fair food” around is right here – including these great smelling barbecue dishes shown off by pit masters Henry Black and Albert Black of H & H Barbecue.

Parkrose neighbor Jenny Hickey shows the “Best of Breads” Blue Ribbon she received for her Apple Cinnamon Roll with Cream Cheese Drizzle.

“There’s been a resurgence of people growing gardens, being involved in photography, art, and needlecraft, as well as taking pride in their cooking and baking,” Smith observed. “The county fair is where they can show their skills. And, we’ve seen a marked increase in families creating crafts together, as family activities, too.”

Coming all the way from Grand Ronde, west of Salem, with her family, to have her bunny judged is Naomi Robertson – with her best-in-breed Polish rabbit “Onsie”.

In 4-H Club competition, the egg is judged before the chicken is.

But one of the chief reasons FMCF have continued to hold this fair is to promote youth opportunities, said Smith. “The 4-H Club programs are again beginning to thrive, providing wonderful opportunities for young people to develop their potential; learning things that will help them throughout their adult lives.”

After touring the fair, many families went on to enjoy the Oaks Amusement Park rides – ranging from those for toddlers, up to the thrill rides – like the newly-installed “Adrenaline Peak” roller coaster.

Although the Oaks Amusement Park’s new “Adrenaline Peak” roller coaster is now in the original location of the “Scrambler”, guests Kyle Divine and Harper Divine had no problem finding and riding that old and venerated ride, now located along the midway.

Taking her first pony ride is five-year-old Emma Morales.

With the resurgence of “county fair fever”, as chronicled recently in traditional and social media, the number of FMCF volunteers has grown.
“Having new people interested in helping in various capacities to put on our future county fairs promises a bright future for our fair!” Smith said. “Throughout the year, as many as 75 volunteers help in different capacities; and about a dozen volunteers are involved in it your around.”

And, as early as the first week of June, FMCF leaders will meet to begin planning the 2019 Multnomah County Fair.

Between his magic shows, Professor Bamboozle creates this balloon sculpture for Kayden Hope.

The Multnomah County Fair was located at historic, nonprofit Oaks Amusement Park, at 7805 SE Oaks Park Way, 97202. For more information, see the fair’s website: CLICK HERE.

>> On our Front Page: Showing off her rabbit is Anna Hansen from the Portland-based Hens & Hares 4-H Club.

© 2018 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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