Fair to build village for visiting youth

John Schmitz/For the Capital Press Oregon State Fair Foundation chairwoman Kate Tarter, left, Brian Silcott, director of the Oregon State Fair and Expo Center, and Randy Hopfer, owner of Impressions Unleashed, stand in front of The Legacy Wall at the Oregon State Fair, which will help raise money for the Oregon Youth Village planned for the fairgrounds.

Fundraiser set to help pay for new eight-person cabins


For the Capital Press

SALEM -- The Oregon State Fair Foundation is raising money to build cabins so 4-H and FFA members will have a place to stay at the fair.

The all-volunteer foundation was established in 2003 to fund projects that benefit the Oregon State Fair and Expo Center.

"The Oregon Youth Village is the first project of size that we've taken on," foundation chair Kate Tarter said.

The village, which will replace less accommodating, temporary housing on the fairgrounds, will eventually consist of 25 permanent cabins built around cul-de-sacs and located close to the Pavilion.

Each cabin in the village will accommodate eight people and be custom designed to reflect various Oregon scenes.

To help fund the village, OSFF has begun work on its Legacy Wall, a patchwork of permanent, personalized tiles of various sizes that people and organizations can purchase. The porcelain tiles, which can carry photos and other graphics, will be going in along the north side of the fair's AmeriCraft Center, formerly the Jackman Long Building. The tiled wall concept was suggested by foundation board member David Szyplinski.

"I wanted to make the wall very family-friendly," said Szyplinski, who got the idea while visiting the Disney Epcot Center and seeing the "Leave a Legacy" wall there.

Impressions Unleashed is making and installing the tiles.

"We get a donation every time a tile is sold," Tarter said. "It's our only project right now, and all the donations go to the youth village."

It cost around $60,000 a year to bring in temporary housing units for the fair, Tarter said.

"They were very cramped trailers and they packed in as many kids as they could," said Sam Palacio, Oregon FFA national officer candidate. While most slept on cots, others had to sleep on the floor.

A foundation committee decided that it would be more financially sound to purchase permanent housing, and then rent out the units during the remainder of the year.

One of the advantages that the Oregon Youth Village will offer over temporary housing is that it will eventually accommodate most, if not all, of the FFA and 4-H students during their stays on the fairgrounds during competition.

The cabins will be manufactured by Palm Harbor Homes near Albany, Ore.

Palacio, who was not raised on a farm and represents the new breed of FFA members coming into the diversifying organization today, said that living with fellow FFA members, many of them from farms, at the fair "is a whole other experience. The connections that you make and the time and experiences you share with others -- that makes the state fair an incredible experience."

It's hoped that the village will also attract other groups who visit the fairgrounds throughout the year for various events.

Buy a tile

To buy a tile or donate to the Oregon Youth Village project, visit the website at www.oregonstatefairfoundation.org or call Oregon State Fair Foundation Kate Tarter at 503-779-4152

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