The gates to the Malheur County Fair open on Tuesday. (The Enterprise/Kristine de Leon)
ONTARIO — "Country Pride, County Wide" is the theme of the 109th annual Malheur County Fair returning next week with fun for all.
The fair will take place at the Malheur County Fairgrounds at 795 NW 9th St. in Ontario. The events runs from Tuesday through Saturday next week.
“It’s going to be phenomenal. You ought to come see,” said Lynelle Christiani, fair manager. “If people haven’t been in a couple of years, it’s not going to be the same fair they saw the last time.”
One major change from last year’s fair will be the newly constructed fairground buildings. Several buildings collapsed during the winter of 2017 and as a result, some of last summer’s events took place in tents.
Last year’s fair had 22,000 people in attendance over the week. Christiani said that she was grateful that fair-goers “got along with all the craziness” last year regarding that change but noted that with the new buildings, this year’s fair “should be wonderful.”
She said that fair organizers are expecting around 25,000 fair attendees this year.
“Every day of fair is a big event,” she said. Starting Tuesday, the fair will offer family fun of all kinds through Saturday.
The fun starts on Tuesday with a safety plaza which hasn’t been at the fair “in a long time,” said Christiani.
There will be 15 vendors selling a variety of “crazy, wonderful fair food,” said Cristiani.
One food vendor that comes in year after year is the Ontario Lions Club.
"The Lions Club's claim to fame is corn dogs," said Stuart Reitz, club president. The club serves hamburgers, drinks and snacks.
"We use this opportunity at the Malheur County Fair as a fundraiser," said Reitz. "And all the money we raise comes back to the community."
Reitz said that the club gets help from Ontario High School students in the Future Business Leaders of America Club.
"We share the proceeds with them," said Reitz. "So the more corn dogs people buy, the more we can do for the community."
Passes for the whole fair are $15 and available until Tuesday at Red Apple in Ontario, M & W Market in Nyssa, and Malheur Drug in Vale. Daily passes will be for sale at the fairgrounds.
About 300 4-H members, ages 5 through 19, will be exhibiting livestock this year, according Melissa Sherman, 4-H program coordinator.
"Numbers are up with every division," Sherman said. "Kids have worked really hard. I encourage people to come watch livestock shows."
Sherman said the public can support the youth by attending the 4-H Junior Livestock Market Sale, which will be on Saturday at 10 a.m.
“Come and see us, come support the kids,” said Christiani. “If you can’t go, buy a pass for someone who can come. The kids have worked so hard, they need kudos from the community.”