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The Prineville Airport Open House Fly-In and Car Show returns Saturday featuring a variety of aircraft and vehicles from the Crook County Rodders car club

VALERIE OLSON - The Prineville Airport Open House Fly-In and Car Show was launched several years ago as a way to bring people up to the local public facility to look around and ask questions. It has grown to become a well-attended event.

Prineville Airport leaders and staff are continually trying to make the aviation facility's presence known in the community and encourage public visits.

From this goal, the Prineville Airport Open House Fly-In and Car Show was born and has gained a steady following in the past few years. The event returns to the airport this Saturday, starting at 8 a.m. and concluding at 2 p.m.

The Fly-In is one of two aviation events held each summer. The other is a Father's Day pancake breakfast fly-in, although the upcoming event is the bigger of the two. Not only does it feature a pancake breakfast from 8 to 10 a.m., courtesy of the Experimental Aircraft Association's Prineville chapter, it includes a hot dog and hamburger lunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The lunch is hosted by the Prineville Lions Club, an organization that has taken over as the primary supporter of the Fly-In.

"It is almost a full-day deal as opposed to a Father's Day breakfast," said Airport Manager Kelly Coffelt.

The breakfast costs $5 and people can buy lunch for $7.

Though the Fly-In will feature a host of aircraft that pilots bring to the event, not everything in the show is of the aviation variety. Shortly after the event was created, the Crook County Rodders car club wanted to get involved.

"So we turned it into a fly-in and car show," Coffelt said. "They have really helped us out and gave a lot of things for people to look at."

Now in its eighth year, the Fly-In was created to bring the public out to the airport and visit a facility that some locals didn't even know existed.

"The reason for it was to have an open event to get the community up to take a look at the airport and see what is going on," Coffelt explained. "I just want people to know that it's a public airport, that it's open and they can enter it at any time. Through the years, I have had people make comments that they had lived here their entire lives, but they didn't realize they could drive in here."

Because it is a public asset, Coffelt wanted people to come up to the airport, take a look around at the many things the facility offers and ask whatever questions they might have.

Since its inception, the Fly-In attracted more and more people, reaching a level of participation that ebbs and flows but is generally strong and steady. That fluctuation is somewhat dependent upon what attractions the event offers.

"We have had years where we have had helicopter rides and such," Coffelt said, noting that those types of events will not be held this year. "But we do have (Crook County Sheriff's) Search and Rescue up here, and Crook County Fire and Rescue will make a showing."

Coffelt added that it is difficult to get an accurate attendance count of the fly-ins because people tend to come and go throughout the duration of the event, although he has observed that they "have quite a few people throughout the day."

And those who have showed up have seemed to leave impressed.

"We have always had really good responses from people," Coffelt said. "There are quite a few people who seem to make it every year."

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