By Pat Caldwell
ONTARIO — She is still counting the total number of attendees but Malheur County Fair Manager Lynelle Christiani already knows one thing: The 2017 fair was a success.
“It went very well,” said Christiani. “This was my best fair yet.”
Christiani said in terms of proceeds the fair is ahead of where it was last year.
Only Friday night, said Christiani, was down in terms of the number of patrons.
Thursday night – where the fair board recognized volunteers and those who donate – was very successful, said Christiani.
“It was an amazing evening. The fair board was able to speak and tell these people how much we appreciate them. At 12:30 a.m. we were still trying to get people out of the facility,” said Christiani.
Saturday night also attracted large numbers, she said.
“The grandstands were packed for the rodeo,” said Christiani.
This year, fair officials overcame several challenges connected to a series of severe winter storms that rolled over the area in January.
The storms damaged or destroyed buildings – including iconic Girvin Hall – and knocked out electricity in several areas. Christiani said, however, the fair officials tackled those two challenges by bringing in generators and utilizing tents for events such as sheep and goat showing.
“And it was hot,” Christiani said.
The climate was the major negative, said Shad Hansen, Malheur County Fair Board chairman.
“The weather was the one thing I wish we had some kind of remedy for. It did not help us,” Hansen said.
Yet Hansen agreed that the fair, overall, was a success.
“Our 4H beef end was excellent. We had a very high number of market steers and we really enjoyed seeing all those kids come out and put time and effort with those big animals,” said Hansen. “We are really fortunate to have the 4H and FFA kids as involved as they are.”
Hansen said he would like to see more people come to the fair next year.
“Not just 4Hers and FFA-goers but make it a little bigger community event,” said Hansen.
Building on the success of the 2017 edition of the Malheur County Fair is an important goal for Christiani as well. Christiani said fair officials are open to suggestions from the public regarding how to improve the event.
Noticeably absent from the fairgrounds this year was a carnival, but Christiani said that was not because of a lack of effort by fair officials.
“We can’t get a carnival to come in. There are fairs the same time we have ours within 100 miles. People need to understand it isn’t that we don’t want a carnival but we can’t get one,” said Christiani.