SALEM — Goats galore, STEAM labs and record-breaking entry numbers will be a part of the Marion County Fair this weekend.
The fair kicks off Thursday and wraps up on Sunday.
Approximately 27,000 people attend the Marion County Fair each year, held at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem, Ore. Jill Ingalls, the event coordinator, said the fair is one of the few in the state that is growing each year.
This year’s fair is no exception, according to Melanie McCabe, 4-H Youth Development Educator for Oregon State University Extension, animal show numbers are up in every category.
Ingalls credits the fair’s board of directors.
“The board of directors here are very savvy about changing the fair to match the culture,” she said.
The Marion County Fair began in the 1860s, after the state fair moved to Salem from Oregon City, according to Jolene Kelley, the public information officer for Marion County.
Not only are the animal entry numbers up, Ingalls said that some of the numbers are higher than they have ever been.
The biggest jump in entries this year comes in the form of goats. Dairy goat entries more than doubled to 61, and meat goats are up by 21 to 72 compared to last year, according to McCabe.
In other animal categories, 33 dairy entries, 55 beef cattle, 18 llamas, 171 swine and 205 sheep are entered to show.
Of the 33 dairy entries, 24 are showing leased cows from Veeman Dairy. Some 17 are 4-H participants and seven are in FFA, according to Rod Veeman, who is the dairy cattle superintendent at the fair and owns the leased cows. This is about the fourth year that the program has been going, he said.
Not many kids were showing dairy at the time that the leasing program started, according to Veeman, and he began the program in an attempt to get more people involved.
Exhibitors of the cattle work with the cows at Veeman’s farm, where he feeds them, so his organic dairy production remains consistent and then the cows go to the fair, where the participants show them.
Besides the show animals, the fair hosts many different vendors, including a cotton candy art booth where works of art are created from spun sugar. This year’s main stage acts include Easton Corbin, a country singer with a couple of chart-topping songs, and Steve Augeri, a former lead singer for the rock band Journey.
The STEAM stage offers labs in “science, technology, engineering, arts and math,” where fair goers can learn about the engineering of Ferris wheels, growing plants and how fireworks are made, among other things.
A STEAM game is also offered in which participants search the fair for answers to STEAM related questions. The “A” in STEAM at the fair also stands for agriculture, not just art, and some of the questions in the game are agriculture-based, Ingalls said.
Full schedules of each day of the Marion County Fair can be found at the fair’s website http://marioncountyfair.net .
Marion County Fair
Where: Oregon State Fairgrounds
Address: 2330 17th St. NE, Salem, Ore.
When: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. July 12, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. July 13-14, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. July 15
Cost: $9 for adults, $5 for seniors 62 and older, $5 for youths ages 6-11