Fair night

Night falls at the Columbia County Fair and Rodeo in 2018.

The Columbia County Fair and Rodeo begins today, July 17, and will run through July 21 at the Columbia County Fairgrounds.

“I think the fair as a whole is something that everyone looks forward to,” Amanda McFeron, Vice President of the Columbia County Fair Board said.

This year’s theme, according to McFeron, is “Barn in the USA.” The fair will include all the traditional events that people look forward to each year. Some of these standard events include wild cow milking, music entertainment, animal barns, a pie eating contest, quilting, canning, photography, the My Fair Lady Pageant, the Junior Rodeo, the Northwest Pro Rodeo Association (NPRA) Rodeo, the Market Auction and of course, the carnival, with many different rides and attractions.

There will also be Vendor Village, selling both food and crafts.

There are new events on the schedule this year as well, McFeron said. One of the biggest new attractions is the demolition derby, which will take place on Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. There are also many new performers, like Jackson Michelson, who will be performing on Friday and Saturday from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m. Sara McMahon, originally from Vernonia, will be performing on Saturday from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Jessie Leigh will be performing on Friday from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. There will also be the “Piano Juggler,” who will be strolling along the fairgrounds starting at 12:00 p.m. on all of the days except for Wednesday. Rich Aimes, another strolling entertainer, will be at the fairgrounds from Thursday through Sunday. There will also be music performances from the St. Helens Public Library Ukulele Orchestra, as well as the Scappoose High School Alumni Band. Additionally, Scappoose High School and St. Helens High School Robotics Clubs will have a demo at an as yet-to-be-determined time on Thursday.

McFeron said the average attendance for the fair and rodeo each year is between 22,000 and 25,000 people.

While it is impossible to predict exactly how many people will buy tickets for the fair this year, McFeron already has a good idea that a fair amount of people will turn out. One of the things that has recently changed is how tickets are sold, with last year being the first year that the fair did online ticket sales, according to McFeron. Already, McFeron can see an improvement with online ticket sales compared to last year.

“Last year was not as good as we would have liked it. But this year we have probably tripled the sales online already than we did last year,” McFeron said.

Part of the reason, McFeron said, is that the system is no longer new, and people now know that buying tickets online is an option. However, those who have not yet purchased their tickets can still purchase tickets at the door.

The fair is funded mostly from proceeds from each year’s fair, and from sponsorships, McFeron said. This year, the county has also started to contribute toward the fair budget to fund some improvements. The county stopped contributing to the budget in 2011, but has made small contributions since then, McFeron said.

A big portion of the work behind bringing the fair to Columbia County is done by volunteers. Last year, the fair had 315 officially recorded volunteers, according to records from the Fair Board.

As for the future of the Columbia County Fair and Rodeo, McFeron said that the board is always open to new ideas. That’s part of the reason why the demolition derby came to the fair this year, because that’s something a lot of residents indicated in the surveys that the fair board runs each year, McFeron said.

“We always want to expand. We always want to continue to grow and to continue to keep the fair going,” McFeron said.

Gate Admission:

Adult (18-59) $9

Senior (60+) $6

Youth (7-17) $6

6 and under FREE

Fair opens at 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 17, Saturday, July 20, and Sunday, July 21; and 12 p.m. Thursday, July 18 and Friday, July 19

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