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A board and dedicated staff have made the Crook County Fairgrounds a great destination for multiple events for decades

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Seth CrawfordFor over 100 years, the Crook County Fairgrounds has been our venue for learning, racing, rodeos, fairs and celebrations of all kinds. Many people love coming to the fairgrounds for the fair, pari-mutuel racing and Crooked River Roundup, but the fairground's staff makes sure those 62 acres are in use, benefitting our community, year round.

In 1903, the Crook County Fairgrounds were established at the current location, leaving a lasting legacy for the people of Crook County. Originally, the fairgrounds included a race track and a small section of grandstands. Thanks to the commitment of generations of volunteers and staff, the fairgrounds have been improved to be a facility that can meet the needs of our county.

In 1946, the first of many major renovations happened at the fairgrounds, adding new bucking chutes, fencing, a new foundation for the grandstand, a city block dedicated for the 4-H club, and 30 stalls for stock.

The next major addition to the Crook County Fairgrounds was a first class indoor arena and the Carey Foster Hall. These improvements allowed the fairgrounds to become a year-round attraction. Our most recent addition to the fairgrounds is the Grizzly Mountain Pavilion. As we move into the future, expect to see continued improvement to the facilities to the fairgrounds.

Many people aren't aware that the fairgrounds is a Crook County department, run by a dedicated manager and three extremely hard-working employees. The county appoints a seven-member board, who is tasked with the planning and governance of the grounds, facilities, employees and volunteers.

These volunteers play a critically important role in the day-to-day operations as well as the events that are held throughout the year. Without their hard work and help, we wouldn't have such a wonderful facility. The next time you find yourself at our beautiful fairgrounds, please take the time to thank the volunteers and employees that you see working hard for our community.

In addition to the Crooked River Roundup, the Pari-mutuel Races, and the Crook County Fair, the fairgrounds are being utilized nearly every weekend of the year for an event or by a community organization. Just a few of the great events that fill up the fairgrounds calendar include the NPR Rodeo Finals, numerous barrel races, various dog and livestock shows, car shows, and our newest addition a tractor pull. In addition to these events, numerous charities and community organizations are able to have great events in the heart of our county. Some great examples of these are Christmas in the Pines, Relay for Life, the annual Hospice auction, the annual chamber banquet, the Crook County Stock Growers annual meeting, Association of Oregon Hunters dinner, and the Holiday Partnership.

Collectively, these events and organizations draw over 100,000 locals and visitors to the heart of our community. These people support our local businesses and contribute to our economy in many ways. The Crook County Fairgrounds is one of the largest stimulators of our economy, spreading local and outside dollars around our community.

The next big event coming up at the fairgrounds is the Crook County Fair. Our fair is a long-standing tradition, born out of our history of ranching and agriculture. In 1914, the 4-H program was established in Crook County, giving birth to the first modern fair as we know it today.

In 1927, the fair became officially known as the Crook County Fair. Historically, the fair was a time for showing livestock and exhibits, entertainment, education and gathering as a community. Today, those traditions continue, on an even larger scale. Over the years, programs, events and attractions, such as a full lineup of live music, a wide variety of food, and fun activities for all ages have been added. But, most of all the fair is fun.  As the winner of the distinguished candy award at last year's fair. I can attest to how fun and rewarding it is to enter your own creations as an exhibit at the fair.

This year's headlining entertainment act is a well-known country artist Terri Clark. Make sure to purchase your tickets for this great show soon.

Our staff has tirelessly pursued carnival companies up and down the West Coast. Despite their hard work, our location, the date of our fair, and our distance from the large populations in other parts of state, have made it impossible to attract one. While we continue to pursue a carnival, our staff and volunteers are working very hard to add activities for young children and teens to enjoy, and we know they'll have a great time!

Please join me in thanking the Fair Board, staff, volunteers and all the individuals and organizations in our community that work so hard to put on such a great fair every year. Our fairgrounds is a tremendous asset to our community. It has an important role in driving our local economy, keeping our cultural traditions alive, and providing enjoyment and entertainment to our citizens and visitors.

I would encourage each of you to spread the word about our fairgrounds and all of the great events that happen within its fences.

Seth Crawford is the Crook County Judge. He can be reached at 541-447-6555.

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