>2006 fair features events both new and old
From carnival rides to 4-H exhibits, this year's Crook County fair offers something for the entire family.
   Crook County Fairgrounds Manager Pat Wood said the county fair opens Wednesday at 5 p.m. Gate times for Thursday, Friday and Saturday are from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
   To whet your appetite, a barbecue to benefit the Greg Merritt Community Scholarship Fund will kick off the 2006 fair. According to Kristi Steber, the barbecue begins at 5:30 p.m. and will be held under the big white tent at the fairgrounds. Cost for the dinner, which will include tri-tip beef, famous cheesy potatoes, salad, rolls, drinks and dessert is $7 for adults and $4 for children under 12.
   Proceeds and donations from the barbecue will add to the Merritt scholarship fund, which assists Crook County High School graduates with college expenses. The fund was established in 2001 by family and friends to honor the life of Greg Merritt, a prominent local farmer and agri-businessman who believed in community service and helping youth. Merritt was a candidate for Crook County judge when he died of cancer at 54. This year's scholarship recipients are Grace DeBoodt and Taylor Danforth.
   Wood said tickets cost $3 and will be sold at the gate.
   He also discussed the anticipated attendance and how many people turned out last year.
   "Those numbers are so varied," he said of last year's attendance. "I've heard four or five different numbers, and if I had to pick a middle of the road, I'd guess 10,000."
   "Really, all I can tell you is that we are looking at at least as large a crowd, perhaps a little larger. We've got a couple days where we've got some new promotions."
   For example, Friday will be Kids' Safety Day, which will take place from noon to 6 p.m.
   "The four sponsors are heavily involved," Wood said of State Farm Insurance, American Family, Chet Petersen Farmers Insurance and Outwest Insurance.
   Personnel from 11 public agencies, including the police and fire departments, Oregon Department of Forestry and Crook County Parks and Recreation will be on hand for the safety day.
   "Also at that time, we're going to have a Toddlers' Driving School," he said. For this, children will be in kiddie cars and will be run through a drivers' safety course. Upon successfully completing the course, they are issued their first driver's license.
   The fairgrounds manager added that people can enter to win one of the kiddie cars and that, in all, four of the vehicles will be given away.
   "And those sponsors actually have complimentary tickets available at their locations right now that you can go pick up," he said.
   In another new feature at the fair, Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. there will be an X-treme motorcycle show in the outdoor arena. Wood said "that will be a free show with fair admission." In this event, top motorcycle riders from across the United States will compete, reaching heights of 65 to 80 feet in the air with their cycles.
   Additionally on Saturday, the 4-H and FFA livestock sale will be held Saturday at 5:30 p.m. in the indoor arena. In appreciation for their support, 4-H and FFA members will hold a breakfast Sunday morning for livestock buyers at 8 a.m. Two tickets will be presented to all buyers the night of the sale.
   Of course for the fairgrounds ride aficionado, there will be plenty of rides. Davis Shows of Tygh Valley, Ore., will provide rides.
   "Currently I would tell you that our exhibits are up in 4-H, FFA and open class," he noted. "Our numbers are up in terms of entries."
   Wood observed that there has been a renewed interest this year in the fairgrounds and the fair.
   "We're trying to make it a family event, so I want families to come," he said.
   This year's theme, which was selected by a 4-H club, will be Barnyard Boogie.
   So whether your tastes lie with livestock, the booths stocking carnival food or with the rides, boogie on down to the 2006 Crook County Fair.
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