At Malheur County Fairgrounds, Desert Sage center makes debut

It’s hard to believe this year is winding down. Our facility has been in a state of destruction and construction all year, but I finally feel like I can exhale! This month, they have been working on the street in front of my office, and finishing up on Girvin Hall. This may turn into “The Never Ending Story.”

In this time of Thanksgiving, I want to focus on those folks in the community who came to our rescue. We have been in a state of chaos since our buildings fell in January 2017. My husband keeps telling me that the Fair Board and the county came out of Snowmageddon smelling like a rose. 

No doubt that’s true; the finished facility will be amazing! But the amount of work and stress the board has been through the past 22 months is amazing. If it wasn’t for this group of dedicated worker bees, the Malheur County Fair would NOT have been a success this year. If you didn’t attend, you missed a really good time. Mark your calendars for next year’s fair, July 30 – Aug. 3. It will be another great event. I say that with complete confidence because of the board, all volunteers. So thank you to Shad Hansen, Helen Thomas, Leanna Elguezabal, Warren Osborne, Chris Johnston, Dave Tschida and Josh Kreger. 

And thank you to Dave Tiffany and team and Valley Paving for the smooth driveways. For the green grass, thanks to Dave Tshida, Mike Price and the County Work Crew, the Work Crew from SRCI, Simplot Soil Builder and Gary Page. 

Thank you to Tami and Danielle Capron and Stephanie, Joey and Rachel Ainsworth for tending to the flower pots and beds; to the Treasure Valley Youth Development Academy for painting the tire planters and barrels; to Chris Payne and Stony Schulties for the straw our fairgoers were able to use at no cost; and to the Red Barn superintendents for stepping up and helping with security; and Jeff Burkhardt, Wyatt Currey and their team for the new wash rack project. 

There are hundreds of volunteers who make the first week of August great. Thank you all. 

I could write a book about the people who have stepped up to help make the Malheur County Fairgrounds whole again. People who worked in three feet of snow, pouring rain, 100-degree weather without a single complaint! Work that had to get done, got done, thanks to this amazing community. 

In my first year here we had 35 events besides fair. Last year we had 70 events. I haven’t tallied this year but I think we’re pretty close to 100! 

This year we have had some amazing weddings and wedding receptions, quinceaneras, family reunions, class reunions and concerts. Also ropings, barrel racing, and rodeos in the arena. 

We’ve had over 50,000 people through our gates this year. Thank you to all of those folks that used our facility. We appreciate being part of your life events! 

Because of the additional use of the facility the Board spent from December through June “rebranding” our facility. With our new buildings we have more space to rent out. With more space to rent out we needed to update our missions, our values and visions, facility rules, contracts, pricing and marketing. We hoped to have all of this done by Fair 2018. Now we are shooting for January 2019.  

This was not an easy decision to make. Our Board members are “Fair people.” That said, paying for our new buildings means they must be rented throughout the year. That means marketing. Which leads me to introduce you to: Desert Sage Event Center, “Home of the Malheur County Fair.” 

With all of the changes, people may think that we are out of financial danger. Not so my friends. All the building to date has been paid for by our insurance company. Now we have additional buildings to maintain. We are still the poor church mice that you know and love. Any help from the community for specific projects or general donations is a godsend. 

We’re thankful for the community that has helped make our facility whole again, and we look forward to meeting new friends and volunteers next year. What kind of skills do you need to volunteer? Do you have a pulse? Can you read? Can you write? You’re a PERFECT volunteer! Whatever your skills, we will find a spot where you will be appreciated. 

Lynelle Christiani, fairgrounds manager, can be reached at 541-889-3431 .