REDMOND, OR -- Fair season kicks off in Central Oregon, later this month, and Deschutes County is celebrating a big milestone 100 years in the making. Fair Coordinator Ross Rogers says the Deschutes County Fair began humbly in 1919, three years after Deschutes broke off from Crook County. The original fairgrounds were where the Redmond Fred Meyer now sits.
Back in the beginning, the fair’s primary focus was agriculture, "There weren’t that many people then – little bit different, now; and they would come to meet for a week to show off their goods and socialize. It was a big social function, and they’d bring their goods." Rogers tells KBND News, "It started as the potatoes, because we were a huge potato capitol – the largest in the world, actually, for a while, and that’s why they called it the ‘potato show’ to begin with. There would [eventually] be a carnival, and then the rodeo joined forces, and then vendors showed up, and it just morphed into what it is today." And what it is today is one of the largest events in Oregon, "The State Fair, of course, in Salem is the largest fair. But, for county fairs – and there are 36 counties in Oregon – we are the largest, now, and have been for about six or seven years. And, we’re also the largest event held in the state, east of the Cascades."
A special centennial exhibit at this year's fair will feature artifacts from the last 100 years and a commemorative fair guide will be released later this month, "It’s slick stock. There will be thousands of copies at the gates when you come to fair. It’s 64 pages, this year, versus the 40 pages it’s been in the past. And, history from day one to today in that fair guide," says Rogers. The 100th Deschutes County Fair runs July 31 through August fourth.
The 88th Jefferson County Fair is July 24-27, and Crook County’s 115th fair is August seventh through the tenth.
File Photo: Deschutes County Fair, Redmond