The "Days of Swine and Roses" are almost upon us.
But there's lots more to this year's Deschutes County Fair & Rodeo than livestock and flowers (although there's enough of those to keep enthusiasts busy), because this is the big one, the granddaddy of fairs in the region, the lollapaloosa of Central Oregon family entertainment.
The 2006 edition starts Wednesday (see "If You Go"), with a country-style flourish. Lee Ann Womack headlines opening day at the fair (see story, page 7), but not before the party gets rolling with a full slate of activities and performances, as well as the traditional carnival and midway attractions.
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band headlines the fair Thursday, day two (see story, page 3). There's also rodeo action both Wednesday and Thursday evenings; carnival rides are discounted at seven for $12 Wednesday and children under 12 get in free Thursday.
Before the five-day run is over, fairgoers will get three major concerts (Womack, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and .38 Special), an award-winning rodeo and more food and family fun than one could possibly consume in that short time.
Deschutes County Fair Marketing Manager Ross Rogers is especially bullish on the Family Fun Zone, a new entry on the fair scene a few years ago that's been a hit with patrons. At the northern end of the fairgrounds, once a dusty, "no-man's land," the Family Fun Zone has grown into "one of the most successful things we've been involved in," according to Rogers. The area around it is now "full up" with vendors, he said.
The Family Fun Zone is full up with free, old-fashioned games and competitions such as a pie- and watermelon-eating contest, sack races, apple bobbing, a cake walk and a football throw. The Let's Pretend Circus allows children to dress up as animals or performers and try their hands at performing. The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry will pitch a tent in the zone this year where participants can do science experiments and view exhibits for free. Other activities include a birthday party for Smokey Bear Saturday evening, free pony rides and jalapeno eating, watermelon spitting and singing-in-the-shower contests. The latter is aimed at college-bound students who can win a share of $2,000 in scholarship money.
If it's high-spirited, rough-and-tumble adventure you're after, the rodeo runs Wednesday and Thursday evenings and continues through Saturday, Aug. 5. Voted "Best Rodeo in the Northwest" for four consecutive years, the National Professional Rodeo Association events are included with fair admission. And watch for the High Desert Invitational Bareback Chute Out during Wednesday's performance. The winner-take-all, bronc-riding event will feature world champion riders pitted against the best riders in the Northwest vying for a $6,000 purse.
Once again, Bend fairgoers can opt to leave the driving to someone else. Free shuttle buses will leave the Mt. Bachelor Park & Ride at Simpson and Colorado avenues every 30 minutes (and return to Bend from the fair every 30 minutes) with the earliest departure at 10 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday and the latest bus rolling from Redmond to Bend at 10 p.m. The shuttle service will continue through the close of the fair on Sunday, Aug. 6.
See the Aug. 4 edition of GO! Magazine for details on the rest of the fair, which continues through Sunday, Aug. 6.