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Plan to move fair to town falls flat

NO GO -- Keeping the county fair in Hillsboro is the best decision for now, Boosters say
by: Courtesy Photo, County Commissioner Andy Duyck

HILLSBORO - A possible plan to move the Washington County Fairgrounds to Forest Grove is dead, according to many of those involved in recent discussions.

'It was an option that was looked at, but right now we have no reason to do it,' said Lyle Spiesschaert, spokesman for the Washington County Fair Boosters, a citizen group with about 200 members who support the annual county fair through donations and volunteer time.

'There are too many pluses for where (the fair) is at.'

The Washington County Commissioners, once excited and extremely interested in the idea as a way to resolve the controversy over redevelopment of the fairgrounds land in Hillsboro, have also backed away from the proposal.

'The Boosters were really not interested in going that route,' said County Commissioner Andy Duyck, who represents the west side. 'And for various reasons, we've cooled it as well.'

The idea of the fair's possible relocation to Forest Grove was broached in mid-March, in a casual conversation between Forest Grove Mayor Richard Kidd and two county commissioners, including Duyck.

The city is in the process of condemning a 140-acre site on its south side that the mayor offered as a possible new site for the annual county fair.

But Spiesschaert said the Boosters aren't ready to give up on the 101 acres of publicly owned land in Hillsboro - and its central location and access to public transportation.

Mike Steward, a Fair Board member and Fair Booster, said he, too, thought it was unlikely that the fair would move to Forest Grove anytime soon.

'It's not our No. 1 choice, not the Boosters or the Fair Board,' he said. 'There are many other options out there that would be considered before the Forest Grove option.

'If we decide we want to move, we'll open the door to other towns and communities to provide us with options.'