In the community

Malheur County Fair posts strong season as livestock sales surge

Local residents signal their bids during the stock sale at the Malheur County Fair on Saturday. (The Enterprise/Carolyn Agrimis)

ONTARIO – The 109th annual Malheur County Fair wrapped up on Saturday evening after a week of “Country Pride, County Wide” themed fun and record sales in livestock.

Events included two animal auctions, a concert series, carnival rides, and a rodeo among others. 

Fair Manager Lynelle Christiani said Monday that while precise attendance numbers weren’t yet available, the fair was well attended. She noted the concert Thursday evening was popular, and said some of the food vendors had “record” sales over the week. 

Christiani said there were more animals for sale than in previous years, with 240 offered by the 4-H and FFA exhibitors. 

Matt Rockwell, president of the Malheur County Cattlemen’s Association, said that this year’s fair was a “huge success” for the group. They didn’t have a final tally, but said they had “record numbers” for the commercial steers as well as heifer sales. 

Rockwell was “thrilled” with the newly installed wash rack on the grounds, and said the dinner on Wednesday night was a success. 

 “We’re excited to unify the producers and merchants within the county,” he said. “We’re a cattle county, and we’re appreciate of support that we get from the merchants around the county because they seem to realize that beef dollars are a big part of business here.”

Rockwell said he was “appreciative” of the donations from community including “all the time that people spent hanging the shade” that hung over the animal arena. 

 “There were several people who donated a lot of resources to make that happen,” he said. “I can’t list them all. It’s just great to see the community work together like that.”

Christiani also acknowledged the public’s support in making the fair come together this year.

 “We can’t make it work without the public being involved,” she said. She also said that while the fair is “doing well with what we have,” future fairs have the potential for higher numbers with more volunteer involvement. 

In terms of possible improvements for next year, Christiani said the grounds could use a new public address system and upgraded lighting for the fair to be the “best experience for the public” that it can be. 

“I think people are pleased with what the buildings are going to be,” she said. Some buildings on the fairgrounds, damaged during winter storms, were rebuilt this year or in the process of completion during the fair.