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After moving much of the fair downtown last year, all events will again be at the fairgrounds

CENTRAL OREGONIAN FILE PHOTO - Greg Merritt Community Scholarship Barbeque will kick off the fair Wednesday, August 4, and will precede live music and additional attractionsThe Crook County Fair was one of the only summer events to survive the COVID-19 pandemic that canceled most community attractions last year.

But it wasn't the same fair that people were used to attending – the animal exhibits and musical acts were still held at the fairgrounds, but the remaining exhibits and vendors set up shop in downtown Prineville to keep crowd numbers down.

That won't be necessary this year. The fair, in its entirety, will return to the fairgrounds Aug. 4-7. It kicks off next Wednesday evening and will feature a variety of concerts, entertainers, exhibits and foods.

"Last year, it was quite a feat to take everything downtown and keep the animals and entertainment at the fairgrounds," said Fairgrounds Manager Casey Daly, "so we look forward to having it all in one spot this year."

The static exhibits such as food prep and arts and crafts will again be shown at Carey Foster Hall. Livestock will be shown under the fairgrounds' covered barns, except for swine, which fairgoers can find in the indoor arena. The livestock sale will also take place in the indoor arena on Saturday afternoon.

Live music lovers will have plenty of options, with a new act taking the stage each evening. At the conclusion of the Greg Merritt Community Scholarship Barbecue on Wednesday evening, The Diamonds will take the stage.

"They are a band that has been around since the 1960s," Daly said. "They are more than musicians. They are entertainers."

The Brady Goss Band will perform on Thursday evening, and Countryfied will take the stage on Friday evening. Then, on Saturday night, headliner Shenandoah will perform. All concerts, including the headliner performance, are free to attend.

"So, we encourage people to bring their lawn chairs Saturday night," Daly said, "because we expect it to be pretty busy."

Carnivals have historically been very difficult for fair leaders to book, but this year, it wasn't a problem. They were able to negotiate a three-year deal with Paul Maurer Shows.

"We lost a lot of providers over the COVID break," Daly said. "There are a lot of fairs much larger than ours that won't have a carnival this year, so we are very fortunate."

The carnival won't be the only attraction on the fairgrounds. Fairgoers can watch a magician perform, or a hypnotist. They can go on camel rides or pony rides (if you weigh 70 pounds or lighter). Competitive sorts can enter an ice cream eating contest or a watermelon eating contest, and those who prefer to eat in a non-competitive environment will have plenty of places to buy a meal during the fair.

Although the Crook County Fair is not officially limited by COVID restrictions, Daly stressed that people will be encouraged to stay aware of other people's health concerns.

"We are going to try our darndest to be courteous of one another and give everybody space," he said, adding that sanitizer and social distancing signage will be placed throughout the fairgrounds. "We just encourage everybody to have a safe fair."


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