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Virtual exhibits, attractions moved downtown, other modifications enable event to take place despite pandemic-related regulations

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Fairgrounds will primarily be reserved for livestock showing and sale.

It won't be the same fair that people have grown accustomed to attending, but the Crook County Fair will still take place this summer.

But don't expect all of it to take place at the fairgrounds. Like many other events during the pandemic, some portions will go virtual and other pieces of the fair will be moved into downtown Prineville.

"We are calling it, 'Bringing the fair to town,'" said Crook County Fairgrounds Manager Casey Daly.

When it comes to exhibits, only livestock activities and showing and the livestock sale will remain at the fairgrounds this year.

"Those kids have a lot invested in those projects up to now," Daly said of the decision.

To keep within the 250-person limit imposed on large-space gatherings, no in-person viewing will be permitted except for 4-H and FFA program members and parents.

"The thought is to have those livestreamed, so they are accessible to the public," Daly said, adding the same plan is in place for the livestock sale.

Some events will take the year off or undergo changes. The annual FFA Alumni Barbecue is not currenly scheduled, although discussions about the event are still ongoing. The Greg Merritt Scholarship Barbecue that traditionally kicks off the fair will not be held, but a benefit concert of the same name is planned for Wednesday evening of fair week at the fairgrounds.

The benefit concert will feature the Doo Wahs Riders and seating is limited to the first 200 people that show. Audience members will be asked to social distance under and around the performance tent. More details will be provided at a later date.

The veterans' breakfast will still be held, but as a drive-up event at the fairgrounds.

"We will hand whoever is in the car their veterans' breakfast and they will drive on to consume it at another place," Daly explained.

The static exhibit will be shown virtually this year. Daly said that entrants can submit a photo of their project and judges will award ribbons based on the photos.

"We are having to eliminate some of the projects that are very traditional — ones that need to be tasted," he added. "We are just not able to do that under this (pandemic) scenario."

Fair leaders are trying to make the static exhibit photos available to the public online.

The rest of the fair attraction offered this year will be moved to different locations downtown.

"All of our educational booths and some entertainment is going to be spread out amongst the downtown core," Daly said.

The Talent Showcase, the juggler and different dance troupes will take the stage at Pioneer Park at different times. Meanwhile, other educational displays — such as Wildlife Wendy, Puzzlemania and others — will occupy such locations as the Crook County Courthouse lawn, the Prineville City Hall Plaza and Stryker Field.

"The idea is to create a walking map for the folks to be able to visit these different displays," Daly said. "It will give us the ability to stay within the head count guidelines put out by the state."

The new plan took fair leaders a couple months to craft and some aspects of it still need more work. But they achieved the main goal of providing a fair during a time when many community events were shut down by the pandemic.

"The community deserves to have a fair," Daly said. "We are going to do everything in our power to make it happen. We want to do this for the community."


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