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Fair deemed a huge success: Livestock auction had record sales, and fair attendance was up

HOLLY SCHOLZ/MADRAS PIONEER - Nine-year-old Rebel Raisers 4-H club member Emmah Call pets her lionhead bunny during the Jefferson County Fair last week. This is Emmah's second year in 4-H.

Attendance was up, the rides were a hit, and bidders were generous during the Jefferson County Fair and Rodeo last week.

"Jefferson County and the surrounding counties were chomping at the bit to get out and do something, and what is better to do than celebrate," said Jefferson County Fairgrounds Coordinator Brian Crow. "All I could see is people who were extremely happy to be back together. We saw a lot of pent-up demand for socializing and just hanging with friends."

This year's county fair was much more "normal" than the 2020 fair, which included some online exhibits and the livestock auction.

Crow estimates that overall fair attendance was up by about 70% compared to 2019. The fair generally has 20,000 to 22,000 visitors, and based on the current numbers, it is estimated that 35,000 attended last week.

 - While the sight of a steer rising up might be concerning, handler Matty Buck didn't seem too concerned during Wednesday's showing at the Jefferson County Fair.   The Countryfied Friday night concert and the Toast and Jam Saturday night concert had three times the number of people than they normally do, which Crow credits partly to moving the music into the pavilion and the creation of a food court around it.

"The rodeo sold out both nights, which I have never seen, and the community stepped up for the auction in a huge way," Crow said.

The annual Jefferson County Livestock Association 4-H and FFA Market Auction saw record-high prices, reported auction organizer Kristina Gomes.

"As always, the community came out and supported the kids, even with the adversity many have faced and are facing," Gomes said.

A total of 171 exhibitors sold their market animals during the Saturday auction at the fairgrounds. Gomes estimated the auction sales were $640,000 plus an additional $36,000 so far toward the floor dollars.

"It was a great week at fair, ending with an absolutely exceptional livestock sale," Gomes said.

The Family Fun Night Ranch Rodeo and Madras Saddle and Gaming Club Double Header Barrel Race were well-attended, and the barrel race continued until 1 a.m.

Crow said attendance at the carnival was double what it was in 2019.

"Paul Maurer Shows had spent the last year painting, cleaning and putting LED lights on all of their rides, which gave the effect of a light show after dark," he said. "It was clean, the staff was great, and we had no major incidents."

Open Class Coordinator Kim Schmith said entries were down, possibly because they were unable to print a fair book. Baked and canned goods were not allowed because of COVID-19.

"The entries themselves were of serious quality. We had incredible diversity of products," Schmith said, noting that superintendents took the time to speak with those entering to make note of possible changes for the coming years.

Schmith and Key Club students oversaw the new Kids' Creative Zone, an activity area in the pavilion. About 350 kids made crafts, and Schmith said Key Club will look at grants to expand the activity next year.

Crow said one of the reasons why the fair was so successful is because of the hard work of the Jefferson County Fair Board members, who devoted days and weeks to making things look good. He said members Terry Weitman, Al Short, Katie Boyle, Jane Ellen Innes, Kent Crook and John McCloskey are superheroes in his book.

"We also had a lot of awesome volunteers that assisted us in presenting the 2021 fair," Crow said, and the City of Madras Public Works department helped with traffic and parking on Saturday.

The fair board is still looking at all of the numbers, but Crow said it looks like the fair had a very good year financially.

"This will give us a little more money to continue to improve the fair, add more attractions and keep upgrading our facility," Crow said. "If you consider that a month and a half ago we weren't sure we could have a fair, I would call this year a success."

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