Volunteers boldly gear up for modest Multnomah County Fair

It looks as if the Multnomah County Fair will resume on Memorial Day weekend, but in a ‘condensed’ form …

Outside the historic Oaks Amusement Park Dance Pavilion, Friends of Multnomah County Fair volunteers are planning for their three-day 2021 fair, in late May.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Although it will be a vastly scaled-down affair, it looks as if the 115th Multnomah County Fair will indeed take place, open to the public this year, at Oaks Amusement Park at the end of May.

In 2020, the 114th edition of the fair was unlike any other in its history, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. First, the Memorial Day weekend dates were given up, and then postponed summer dates, were cancelled by Oregon coronavirus rules – but volunteers believed they’d be allowed to host a few guests to view exhibits in The Oaks Dance Pavilion. That plan was nixed as well.

Not giving up, finally, on October 17, Friends of Multnomah County Fair (FMCF) volunteers hosted a “virtual” fair – as the exhibits were photographed and made into a program, later shown online. [CLICK HERE to read about last fall’s Virtual Multnomah County Fair.]

They’re hoping for a “mostly live” Multnomah County Fair this year, says FMCF Executive Director Larry Smith.

“This year, we hope to host a small, but ‘live’, fair on Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day weekend,” said indefatigable FMCF Executive Director Larry Smith.

“Our fair will be entirely contained within the Dance Pavilion this year, where we’ll welcome gardeners, cooks, canners, bakers, artists, needle-crafters, photographers, and artists to bring their materials to be judged,” Smith told East Portland News.

Oaks Amusement Park rides and concessions will be open, at the capacity that public officials then allow, during the fair dates.

“Sadly, due to ever-changing government regulations and conditions, we aren’t able to schedule any outdoor activities this year, such as live entertainment, commercial vendors, and food booths,” Smith conceded Smith.

“But, on the up side, FMCF is very happy to welcome the help of Fair Managers Tracy Burback of Funtastic Shows and MaryBeth Coffey, retired Oaks Park Association’s marketing manager – both of whom bring a wealth of experience to the fair!” he enthused.

Oaks Park Association Marketing and Events Director Emily MacKay, FMCF Executive Director Larry Smith, and new Fair Manager MaryBeth Coffey get together in the Dance Pavilion, making plans for this year’s Multnomah County Fair.

Entry by free timed-entry tickets
“Currently, we would be able to allow no more than 50 visitors into the building at a time – subject to change, for better or worse – between now and Memorial Day,” pointed out Smith. “Admission will be by free, timed-entry tickets, made through the Oaks Park website.”

What’s the “mostly live” part of this year’s fair? Smith added that this year, they are planning to “live-stream” fair exhibits and activities – including a Talent Contest – on their website, so that anyone reluctant venture out to Oaks Park can see it from home.

UPDATE On May 10, Smith added:
“With Multnomah County out of ‘extreme risk’ through May, the Fair will be allowed to have guests in the building. Preference will be given to those with ticketed entry, obtained from Oaks Park’s website (should be up and running the week of the Fair); walk-ins will be allowed in, if and when space is available — but they likely will have to wait.”

Here is the most recent schedule:

  • Friday, May 28, Noon to 7:30 p.m. — Exhibitors can take in entries outside the front door and set them up in the Dance Pavilion in Oaks Park.
  • Saturday, May 29, Open to the ticketed public from noon until 6 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 30, Open to the ticketed public from noon until 4:30 p.m.  Exhibitors may reclaim items from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Again, Oaks Amusement Park attractions will be available by only with tickets, pre-purchased online; and, their concessions areas will be open.

For the latest, up-to-date information about the 2021 Multnomah County Fair – including online exhibit entry forms – see their official website at CLICK HERE.

© 2021 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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