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From humble beginnings: West Linn Old Time Fair

Before the princesses, the skydivers and the parade, there was the basement of the Willamette Methodist Church.

That’s where, in the early ’50s, members of Willamette Grange Hall 888 met for social gatherings and small fairs. They also used nearby Willamette Park.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO: WEST LINN HISTORICAL SOCIETY - The 1968 West Linn fair court rides a swan-themed float in the parade. The event was first called the West Linn Community Fair.In 1956, after a number of successful gatherings and other events, many community members outside of the Grange wanted to get in on the fun — church members, the fire department and a variety of other organizations began to get involved. Soon, local merchants were being asked to contribute to funding community events and provide prizes.

At a meeting held July 27, 1957, there was enough interest to expand the idea of a fair to include the community. The event was christened the West Linn Community Fair. A new group organized itself with an executive committee, a board of directors, an official fair committee and a general committee. Nathan Wright served as chairman, Clem Dollar as treasurer, Helen Taggart as secretary and Ben Fritchie, Charles Ridder and Mildred Younge as directors.

Thus, the fair was born.

On Saturday, August 24, 1957, the West Linn Community Fair opened for business at Willamette Park. After successful fairs in 1957 and 1958, the board added a Queen’s Court of eighth-grade girls from the West Linn-Wilsonville School District in 1959. They were not called princesses at the time, but Queen’s Candidates. Also in 1959, the Fair was expanded to a two-day event. In 1960, a street dance on the Saturday of the week before the West Linn Community Fair was held.

And the tradition continues.

For more on the history of the Old Time Fair, go to www.westlinnhistory.org/West_Linn_Historical_Society/OldTimeFair.html.

Based on research by Larry McIntyre

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