This year at Multnomah County Fair – camel rides!

Free gate entry and free parking is one reason why families from all over the metro area come to this East Portland springtime fair. It’s open – and running through Memorial Day …

Thanks to the participation of local 4-H Clubs, the Multnomah County Fair features livestock on display.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Cool-but-sunny weather for the opening day of the 2016 Multnomah County Fair on Saturday, May 28, boosted attendance as families from all over the greater Portland area drove to historic, nonprofit Oaks Amusement Park for a day of fun.

It’s unusual for a county fair to be held in the spring, but volunteers with the Friends of Multnomah County Fair say they’re happy that they’ve been able to keep the tradition going.

Camel rides anyone? Collin Turkington gets his first camel ride at this year’s Multnomah County Fair.

Multnomah County Fair Floral & Garden Superintendent Angela Swonger spends a moment with Friends of Multnomah County Fair Board President Larry Smith.

“Welcome to the 110th Multnomah County Fair,” greeted Friends of Multnomah County Fair Board President Larry Smith, who said he’s participated as an exhibitor since 1984.

“It has been a struggle to keep it going,” Smith acknowledged, after the County Commissioners abandoned funding for the fair – and actually tried to close it down. “But a group of dedicated volunteers who thought the fair was important to our community decided to form our Friends group, and give the fair a life of its own.

“This wonderful tradition of having a county fair takes continues, due to the efforts and perseverance of our volunteers,” remarked Smith.

Multnomah County 4-H Club member Jackie Ruff shows off her floral exhibit.

A small but dedicated core of 4-H Clubs continue to be an important feature at the fair, Smith told East Portland News. “This year, the top participants will be able to progress to the Oregon State Fair with their entries. They are really working to renew and reestablish the 4-H program, after the Multnomah County commissioners cut off its funding for many years.”

Having their chickens judged, from the Corbett Critters 4-H Club, are Azy Beaeckel, Caleb Escalante, Katie Church, and Camille Hildum.

One of the youngsters, who has become an articulate spokesperson for 4-H Clubs, is seventh-grader Katie Church from the Corbett Critters 4-H Club. “I think young people should get involved in 4-H. because it’s a really good experience, and a lot of fun,” Church grinned, moments after winning another championship ribbon for one of her chickens.

“It is fun going to fairs, but it’s also important, because people who live in the city can come here so they and their kids can see real live chickens,” Church added.

Speaking meeting new kinds of animals, new – and a big hit at this year’s fair are – camel rides, Smith pointed out. “It’s not every day you and your family can ride on a real live camel – but it is just one of the many activities here at our fair this year.”

The band FadedBlue rocks out on stage at the Multnomah County Fair.

It’s always an amazing outdoor bazaar along “Vendor’s Row” every year.

Inspirational speaker, and quadriplegic, Ron Heagy of “Mouthpainted Art” shows how he creates art masterpieces while holding a brush in his teeth.

The Oaks Amusement Park midway is open during the fair, with unlimited ride bracelets costing about the same as one or two rides cost at the festival across the river downtown, Smith noted. “Families know this is a clean, safe place to come and enjoy a day together.”

Smith had a difficult time picking out his favorite attraction of this year’s fair. “I like all the activities. There is a constant swirl of entertainment, animals, and crafts – something for just about everyone.  Even the crankiest person can come here and find something that they like about the fair, this year!”

Luella Gaddie and her dad David Gaddie, from Lake Oswego, enjoy the “boat ride” on the Oaks Amusement Park midway.

Shortly this year’s fair ends on Memorial Day, the Friends of Multnomah County Fair will gather to elect a new 7-member board of directors, and start planning the 111th Multnomah County Fair next year: “We’re looking for volunteers to put it on, in any capacity. Check our website, and learn ways that you can participate.”

The nonprofit Multnomah County Fair takes continues through May 30, from noon until 7:00 p.m. with FREE gate admission, FREE parking, and inexpensive carnival rides and food, at nonprofit Oaks Amusement Park, located near the Sellwood Bridge at

7805 SE Oaks Park Way, 97202. For more information, see their official website: CLICK HERE.

>> On our Front Page: Multnomah County 4-H Hens and Hares Club member Anna Hansen shows her “Havana broken blue junior buck” rabbit, named Larry.

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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