ONTARIO – Dawnita Haueter was fairly certain the Malheur County Fair attracted a larger crowd than in the past but she admitted she was surprised when the final attendance numbers were tallied.
“I wasn’t sure, honestly, because being my first year, things looked completely different from a spectators’ perspective than as a host,” said Haueter.
Haueter said nearly 19,000 people attended the fair over its five-day run in August, a boost from previous year’s attendance.
“The evenings were just jam-packed with people. So, it was good. I am very excited about it,” said Haueter.
The 2022 fair was the first one for Haueter as manager and she said the event proved to go smoother than she anticipated.
“The carnival was a huge success, the concerts were a huge success and the food vendors were happy,” said Haueter.
Haueter said the concert for the Bellamy Brothers at the fair attracted more than 800 people.
The addition of a carnival at the last minute also helped the fair, she said.
“We had no plans on having a carnival. The carnival was in Canyon County and were getting ready to tear down and they heard we had a fair the following week,” said Haueter.
Haueter said representatives of Paul Maurer Shows visited the fairgrounds just before the fair was to start, looked around and decided to bring their operation over.
“So, on Sunday at 3 p.m. we were getting everything together to open Tuesday. I was nervous. I wasn’t sure what to expect but they were amazing. To seal it at the 11th hour was nice,” said Haueter.
Haueter said she was “ecstatic” about the success of the fair.
“I thank all of the fans that came out and I thank all of the participants who worked so hard to get their farm animals ready to go and all the exhibitors,” said Haueter.
More good news for the fair arrived last month when the Malheur County Court inked a grant agreement with the state.
The deal will funnel $2 million to the fairgrounds for infrastructure improvements. The money is scheduled to be delivered to the county between now and June 30, 2023.
“It’s a great thing because I think the fairgrounds is extremely important for this community,” said Dan Joyce, Malheur County judge.
The list of improvements being considered, said Haueter, is long.
“Everyone on the (fair) board has things they’d like to see done. We will sit down together and discuss it and go from there,” said Haueter.
County officials said there is no requirement to spend the money within the current fiscal year.
News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]
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