Good times were had by young and old alike during last week’s Lincoln County Fair, which took place from Thursday through Sunday at the Lincoln County Commons in Newport.
When asked about his impressions of this year’s event, Todd Williver, 4-H program coordinator for Lincoln County who also serves as the fair manager, said, “I kept looking for something that disappointed, and I’m not finding it.” He added, “Nothing was off-the-chart larger than last year, but everything was slightly better. I haven’t done all the numbers, but it looks like food court revenue is going to be up, the music attendance was up. It’s just all really, really good.”
Williver said the rodeo, which hadn’t been a part of the fair for about a decade, was one of the highlights. “For the Friday night rodeo, there was just the sea of horse trailers out there.”
This was the second year the fair has been held in conjunction with the Fourth of July weekend, rather than later in the summer as in the past, and Williver said he has been pleased with the turnout. “I think we’ve shown that the people come when we do it on the Fourth, and not just our local people,” he said. “The initial concern was you might get out-of-towners but you wouldn’t get the locals, but the locals have come. They’ve been here. They appreciate it, as well.”
When asked about the belief of some people that county fairs are a thing of the past and no longer relevant in this day and age, Williver said, “Fairs aren’t dead, not by any means. Everybody needs an opportunity to celebrate what the county is good about. It used to be that that was animals and agriculture; that’s what a country fair used to be. The fairs that are struggling are ones that hold so fast to that tradition that they lose the change in times.
“We’ve still got a ton to celebrate in Lincoln County,” continued Williver. “Our musical talent is extraordinary, our artist community is incredible.” The key, he said, is to have the flexibility to change with the times. “We’ve got a lot still to celebrate, and a county fair is where we do that.”
With plans in the works for the redevelopment of the fairgrounds into the Lincoln County Commons, Williver was asked what this means for the future of the fair on that site.
“We’re hugely involved, and to the county’s credit, they’ve given us a lot of voice in how all that’s going to come together,” Williver said of the redevelopment plans. The master plan has been approved and can be viewed on the Lincoln County Commons website (www.co.lincoln.or.us/commons). The project is now in the design phase.
“The hope is that if at all possible, we will do one more fair here (prior to reconstruction), and that will be our sort of farewell to the fairgrounds fair,” he said. Plans are to begin demolition of some of the old buildings immediately after the close of next year’s fair, “and by fair of 2021, we’ll have our new facility,” said Williver. “The hope is that everything can be done, and we won’t miss a year of fair here.”