Dawnita Haueter, the new manager at the Malheur County Fairgrounds, talks about her goals for the next year. (The Enterprise/PAT CALDWELL)

ONTARIO – Dawnita Haueter, the new manager at the Malheur County Fairgrounds, believes in the fair.

That devotion has its roots with her own children who annually showed animals at the county’s premier summer event, and it is one reason she decided last fall to apply for the job.

“I have had always been a fan of the Malheur County Fair and I felt like this would be a good position to come in and put my input in and hopefully I can succeed,” said Haueter last week.

Haueter is also quite familiar with Malheur County.

A Missouri native, Haueter came to the county 33 years ago where she met her husband, Dean.

“I came out here to spend the summer and Dean was one of the first people I met. We started dating and the next thing you know, we were married,” said Haueter.

Now, Dean and Dawnita live in Vale but still manage the family ranch in Little Valley.

Haueter started her new job Jan. 3 and is firmly locked in a “learning process.”

“I am looking forward to everything this position offers and looking forward to working with all the board members,” said Haueter.

Haueter’s deep local roots will be a benefit in the future for the fairgrounds, said Warren Osborne, fair board vice chair.

“The knowledge of the people here is a huge benefit. We are excited to have her,” said Osborne.

According to Lorinda DuBois, Malheur County administrator, 11 people applied for the job.

As part of her job description Haueter is responsible for a host of tasks including managing the fairgrounds budget, seeking out and writing grants, fundraising and marketing and the care and maintenance of the grounds and the fair buildings.

While the fair takes center stage every summer, there are other events such as holiday bazaars that occur at the fairgrounds every year that Haueter must supervise and coordinate.

The Malheur County Fair is more than just an opportunity to show FFA or 4H animals for Haueter. There is a unique cultural ethos to the event.

“I know how important it is to kids and parents of those children. It gives them a really good foundation to work with and build on,” said Haueter.

Though she grew up on a farm, Haueter said she never participated in 4H or FFA animal showings. When her children showed an interest in showing stock, she jumped into the fair scene.

“I learned tons of information just because I was a parent of a fairgoer,” said Haueter.

Haueter draws her motivation from her family and believes the fair is a “family-driven” event.

“Malheur County cares about its kids. We work hard to make sure the fair is successful for the kids,” said Haueter.

Last week Haueter said she didn’t plan any major changes but, instead, was focused on just learning her job.

“I just jumped in and hit the ground running,” said Haueter.

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

Previous coverage:

COVID-19 virus forces cancellation of the Malheur County Fair

Longtime fair manager steps down from post

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