Friends of the Columbia County Fair and Rodeo unveil 2014 rodeo poster

by: SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: ROBIN JOHNSON - Local artist Jared Kearsleys colored pencil rodeo art over the past four years. The Friends of Columbia County Fair & Rodeo Committee has been commissioning volunteer services from an artist with Michael Curry’s world-renowned Scappoose design studio.

Jared Kearsley has drawn colored pencil artwork for the annual fair’s rodeo for the past four years.

Craig Melton, volunteer with Friends, said he discovered Kearsley about four years ago, who was immediately willing to volunteer his time to create the artwork. Melton said Friends sells posters and lithographs of Kearsley’s work to generate funds.

The lithographs are currently selling for $250 each and large print posters for $5 each. Melton said they are available to buy at the Columbia County Fairgrounds administrative office, Kevin Iverson’s State Farm office, located at 135 North 21st St. in St. Helens, and at Northwest Apparel, located at 57826 Old Portland Road in Warren.

Friends President Julie Sandstrom said the group was formed in 1996 to pay back premiums for 4-H and open class students to participate in the fair. Now, the group also raises money for various maintenance and improvement projects at the Columbia County Fairgrounds.

While the group has found more ways to distribute its funds, the money generated from Kearsley’s artwork goes straight to helping pay 4-H and open class student premiums, Sandstrom said.

Melton said the committee has raised about $450,000 since its beginning in 1996. That money has funded various projects through the years.

“This year we redid the fencing along the rodeo grounds with metal pipe and welded it for the safety of the crowd. It looks good and it’s all welded. It will last 50 years,” Melton said, adding the project costs between $8,000 and $10,000.

Melton said last year, with the help of volunteers, Friends replaced the rodeo grounds’ wooden grandstands with aluminum, a project that cost about $44,000.

The Columbia County Fair and Rodeo will enter its 99th year this July, starting July 16 and running through July 20.

Kearsley was not available for comment following several attempts to reach him.

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