SALEM, Ore. — Alea Minar, 14, has been keeping busy this year at the Oregon State Fair. A 4-Her for six years, Minar shows in every small animal category.
“Rabbit, poultry, cavies (guinea pigs), pigeons and dogs,” she listed off.
Along with showing animals, Minar, who is from Deschutes County, also competes in the static 4-H exhibits such as fashion, sewing, cooking, food preservation, art, photography and leadership.
This is her second year at the fair.
“It’s really awesome,” she said. “We have helpful stewards and volunteers, and great judges. It’s running smoothly.”
Minar enjoys all the opportunities that come with 4-H, and she said that it helps her grow as a person. Although she has many favorite parts, one of them is the lead up to the fair.
“Everyone is stressed out, and you’re studying with your friends, quizzing one another and cleaning the animals,” she said.
For 14-year-old Tatum Heathershaw from Washington County, the fair gives her the chance to be around people who share her love for poultry.
“There’s not a lot of places like that,” she said.
Once at the fair, Minar and Heathershaw said they like meeting new people from around Oregon. This fair year in particular has given them ample opportunity to do that.
“It’s the first year that 4-H and FFA club members have shown animals together since I’ve been alive,” Candi Bothum, 4-H program coordinator, said.
In past years, 4-H would show one week and FFA would show the other, but because many students are going back to school earlier and the groups utilize the same judges, it made sense to show all the youth competitions together, Bothum said.
“It’s been fun. A great opportunity with great organizations,” she said. “The state fair is an opportunity for kids to meet from all over the state. Young livestock raisers and ag enthusiasts — they’re the future of ag. A terrific group of young people.”
Combining the shows also helped lower the number of turnovers the clubs had to make to clean out the animal pens.
Bothum said that she thinks the two groups will continue showing together, but they have some logistical issues regarding space to fix for next year.
“It’s a big group,” she said, noting that the number of animal entries has gone up.
Elsewhere at the fair, the agriculture stage has also been a hit, Brooke Broadbent, the showcase organizer, said. She estimated 30 to 50 people attend the presentations and for the activities it “ebbed and flowed.” So far, the most popular event has been egg day, where 1,500 eggs on a stick were handed out.
Although the fair has stopped keeping daily attendance tallies, Dan Cox, the fair spokesman, said the fair had a good opening day and there have been more discount incentives this year to bring people out.
“I’ve been around fair a long, long time and can see the ebb and flow of the crowd. We’ll get a first wave that stays for several hours and then a second wave of people at night for the concerts,” he said. “On the hot days close to 100 degrees we might see people heading inside more towards the AC, but the one thing we’ve always seen is Oregonians come out no matter what, it’s an interesting thing.”
Cox says the fair offers something for everyone.
“It’s not just for the urban center,” he said. “It’s for the entire state.”