It’s hot outside. The kids need to go shopping for new school clothes. You’d like to get out of town one last time before the fall routine kicks in.
There are lots of reasons to skip the Umatilla County Fair this year. But we’d argue there are even more reasons to go.
While everyone has their own highlights, from carnival rides to hearing their favorite band from their high school years, here are our can’t-miss reasons for checking out the fair.
1. Support 4-H and FFA members. The kids showing off their livestock, poultry, produce and more are the next generation of farmers and ranchers.
While you might not have the interest in bidding on a prize sow or the expertise to differentiate between a cubalaya and a cochin chicken, the barns and exhibit halls are full of budding experts who can teach you a thing or two. Caring for animals during the week — especially when it’s super-hot — is hard work, but there’s also plenty of down time.
They’d appreciate your questions, interest and encouragement, and you might even learn something.
2. Support the arts. There’s more to fair competition than animals, of course, and it’s a great place to see the talent in our county on display.
From fine arts to folk art, photography to watercolors, Lego sculptures to quilts, you’ll see the imaginations and creativity you never knew your friends and neighbors possessed.
Who knows? Maybe it will even inspire you to pick up the old sewing needle or oil paints and start working on an exhibit for next year.
3. Mingle with folks from other communities. The fair is Hermiston’s signature event of the year, and the city has invested plenty in making sure it’s got a good place to live at the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center. But it’s truly a county fair, with folks from all corners stopping in.
Whether you grew up in the county or have moved here recently, chances are good you’ll bump into someone you know. And if not, there are always new friends to meet.
If you’re really hard up for friends, we’d love to chat with you at our East Oregonian/Hermiston Herald booth in the exhibitor’s hall. Stop by and we’ll give you a prize.
4. Cheat week. While we generally don’t advocate caloric overload, if ever there’s a week to cheat on your diet, it’s this one.
Food vendors from near and far bring their tastiest, deepest-fried foods. There are healthy options, of course, but the best way to feel good about eating an elephant ear or loaded cheeseburger is knowing the money you pay for it is going to a good local cause.
5. Award-winning rodeo. A rodeo can be an intimidating sport to dive into. What happens in the arena often appears to be chaos to a newcomer, and the celebrities of the sport don’t have the same name recognition as an NBA or NFL star.
But the Farm-City Pro Rodeo is a premier event, drawing the top-tier stars who compete against local favorites on some of the top bucking stock found anywhere. It’s also a fast-moving rodeo, produced with both the cowboy and spectator in mind.
After a few events we’re sure you’ll get the hang of it, and by the time the barrel racers and bull riders take the arena you’ll be cheering along.