Dreaming big for fairground
It's no secret that I've long dreamed of a comprehensive strategy to fully utilize an important piece of public land — known as the Washington County Fair Complex — to the very best of our ability. The recent groundbreaking for the long-awaited Event Center is a milestone that will change the course of how we interact with this legacy property and bring many new and exciting opportunities to our community.
The evolving story of this almost-100-acre plot of ground is intertwined with the long, rich history of our early pioneers who settled in the Tualatin Valley, raised their families, tended their farms and held the first-ever Washington County Fair, way back in October of 1854. Over the generations, forward-thinking leaders of the day purchased and developed a series of parcels of public land that would each serve as the county fairgrounds for a time.
From the site of the first fair in what is now Forest Grove, to a tract of land near Hillsboro's Shute Park, to its current location along Northeast 34th Avenue and Cornell Road, the Washington County Fair has evolved into one of the most popular and highly respected fairs in the region. Even so, way back in the late 1960s, Fair Board leaders first dreamed of adding a large "expo center" as part of their future plans.
It's been quite a journey since then, including the work and recommendations of the Fairgrounds Revitalization Task Force in 2007 and 2008, as well as input from the Fairgrounds Advisory Committee, Fair Board, Washington County Visitors Association, City of Hillsboro and many other stakeholders over the years. Finally, we're in a position to realize the vision brought forward from the last generation to enrich the lives of those living in Washington County today, as well as to provide opportunities for those who will come after us.
It is has been my pleasure and my honor to have played a part in bringing this dream to reality and I look forward to watching the Washington County Event Center take shape over the coming months.
Andy Duyck has served as chairman of the Washington County Board of Commissioners since 2010. He is retiring at the end of this year.