For a minute, 6-year-old Lucas Condon had second thoughts about mutton bustin’ — sheep riding — Thursday at the Deschutes County Fair. He had good reason. It can be intimidating to put on a helmet, a protective vest and ride a sheep out of a miniature bucking chute.
But before the chute opened, the Bend boy got a boost of confidence from his older brother, Riley Condon, a 9-year-old who had a successful mutton bustin’ run at last year’s fair.
Riley couldn’t complete this time. He grew larger than the 55-pound weight limit, so he watched from the stands and offered advice to his younger brother.
“Hold on and don’t be scared,” Riley said.
The encouragement helped. When the animal shot out of the chute, Lucas held on for the entire dash down the sawdust covered runway, at one point hanging horizontal over the ground.
“Wow,” said the boys’ mother, Ashley Condon. “You’re a mutton bustin’ champion, Lucas. You did it.”
Mutton bustin’ was one of many attractions Thursday at the Deschutes County Fair & Rodeo: carnival games and fried food, a dog agility show, camel rides and a petting zoo with goats, sheep and a pig sitting in the corner. The fair, celebrating its 100th year, will end Sunday.
Kinzie Dawson came to the fair Thursday from her home in the Grant County town of Monument. She was in town to visit her sister and other family members.
Dawson took her two daughters, 5-year-old McKenna and 4-year-old Pasley, to see all the livestock on display and let them ride ponies and pet animals in the petting zoo.
Dawson, who lived in Boise, Idaho, for many years, said she was impressed with the size of the fair and how many activities are free with admission.
In recent years, the five-day fair has averaged 250,000 visitors, far more than neighboring counties and just below the Oregon State Fair in Salem, which drew 264,945 in 2017.
“I lived in Idaho for a while, and this is bigger than the Idaho State Fair,” Dawson said.
“This is awesome. And the free stuff that they do, they don’t do that anywhere else.”
It was a quiet day in many of the livestock barns, where 4-H members and other young farmers were preparing their animals for shows and auctions Saturday.
In the cattle barn, 17-year-old Sydney Schwenk cared for her three cows, Uno, Lexi and Pepper.
Schwenk, whose family owns the Hudson Hill Farm in Sandy washed her cows in the morning and spent the afternoon keeping them and the stall clean. She does not plan on auctioning off her cattle, but rather show them Saturday for a chance to win ribbons.
This is Schwenk’s ninth year showing cows, so she knows what it takes to prepare them.
“At the fair, it’s just keeping your stall clean and keeping them clean,” she said. “They like to push their hay around.”
Back at the mutton bustin’ event, Ashely Condon dusted off her son, Lucas, after his ride on the sheep. She was proud of her son for overcoming his initial fear and doing something that turned out to be fun.
Condon grew up in small town Indiana and remembers how meaningful the county fair was each summer. She would spend every day at the fair taking in the events and working at a booth for her church.
“I would always work at the fair,” Condon said. “It has always been a part of my summers.”
Condon enjoys making new memories with her children at a county fair.
“We just have fun,” she said.
— Reporter: 541-617-7820, email@example.com