In the community

Fun, food and music are on the way as the Malheur County Fair readies for Aug. 1 opening

ONTARIO – Dave Tschida began working on sprucing up the Malheur County Fairground in early May.
Now, less than a week away from county’s biggest local event, the president of the Malheur County Fair Board said he is pleased with the way the grounds look.
“It’s been work. But it is looking pretty good right now,” said Tschida.
This year’s edition of the Malheur County Fair – which runs from Tuesday, Aug. 1, to Saturday, Aug. 5 – will open with no fair manager. Former fairgrounds manager Dawnita Haueter was fired in May.
The board decided to move ahead on a search for a new manager last month but in the interim fair board members have stepped in to help. Tschida said despite the challenges, the fair will “offer a lot going on.” He also said there have been a number of upgrades completed on the grounds.
“We are doing a lot of work on the rodeo side end of the deal,” he said.
Recent improvements to the rodeo grounds include rebuilt animal pens and new wiring along the fences to keep stock from escaping.
There will be plenty of entertainment, concerts and a carnival at the 2023 fair. Tickets cost $5 each day, except for Tuesday when the price drops to $3. A weeklong fair pass is $20. Tickets can be purchased at the gate.

The carnival will be back this year, offering fun rides for fair participants. The carnival, said fair board officials, will be bigger and is a moneymaker for both the carnival and the fair. A daily unlimited carnival ride wristband is $35 while a golden ticket for the carnival – which pays for rides all week – is $85. Advance tickets can be purchased at Red Apple Marketplace in Ontario.
Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassador Clancy Krahn will be on hand at the fair and will conduct presentations to promote the state’s dairy industry. Those presentations include a milk-chugging contest and how to make a smoothie along with other dairy-themed demonstrations in the commercial building.
Also, every night a band will be in concert on the stage behind the big red barn. There are no big names but smaller, more regional bands. The Wrench Monkeys will perform Aug. 1 and Aug. 2, while the James Howard Band performs Aug. 3. Jimmy River & the Groovers will play Aug. 4 while the Earn & Burn Band performs Aug. 5.
Each night, the Wrench Monkeys, The James Howard Band and Jimmy River & the Groovers will perform from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Earn & Burn Band will play from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Magic Man Brad will also be at the fair throughout its run to perform magic tricks and make animal balloons while Corbin Maxy will host his reptile and animal show Friday, Aug. 4, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Also, on Aug. 4, the Kiwanis Club of Ontario will sponsor a Watermelon Seed Flicking Contest at 5:30 p.m. in the Loafing Shed.
A host of food vendors are also scheduled to be at the fair. The local Knights of Columbus will feature a food booth as will Ontario restaurant Fiesta Guadalajara. Other food vendors include: pie makers My Fair Ladies, Holy Olyo’s mini donuts, Mal’s Diner’s food truck, Charlie’s cheeseburgers and toasted sandwiches, Two Low and Slow Barbecue, Quick Bitez walking tacos, and Awesome Blossoms. The food vendors will be stationed in front of the big red barn.
Agency informational booths – such as the Malheur County Building Department and the Malheur County Heath Department – will be set up in the Commercial Building.
The rodeo kicks off Friday, Aug. 4 and runs through Aug. 5. The rodeo will feature bareback riding, breakaway roping, tie-down calf roping, saddle bronc, ranch bronc, steer wrestling, team propping, novice bull riding and bull riding. Added to the pre-rodeo slate this year is mutton busting. The Idaho Cowboy Association-sanctioned rodeo begins at 8 p.m. both nights, with the pre-rodeo set to begin at 7 p.m. Entrance to the rodeo comes with the purchase of a fair ticket.
The pre-rodeo will feature mutton busting, junior steers and junior breakaway roping.
The heart of the fair – 4H and Future Farmers of America animal showing – will be Tuesday, Aug. 1 and run every day through Saturday Aug. 5.
The Malheur County Fair and Rodeo started in 1909 as the Ontario Corn Festival. The event was organized by the Malheur County Agriculture Association to promote corn production. Now the fair records an annual gate count of around 20,000 people each year.
The fair has been held every year since 1909, except in in 2020, when the Corvid pandemic shut its doors.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

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