It's one of the few county fairs, nationally, abandoned by its county -- but it soldiers on, here

DAVID F. ASHTON - In 4-H shows, the egg is judged before the chicken is.  The 112th annual Multnomah County Fair opened its three-day run on Saturday, May 26 – and again broke its own attendance records.

Families from all over the region came to historic Oaks Amusement Park for a day of safe and inexpensive family fun. They came to see the craft and garden exhibits, 4-H Club presentations, and critters – and to enjoy the carnival rides.

Across the nation, attending the local county fair is still a must for families. And, thanks now to a group of volunteers, that tradition in Multnomah County has continued uninterrupted since 1906.

You see, when the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners "washed their hands" of their own fair in 1994 – apparently hoping no one would notice – a nonprofit group called "Friends of Multnomah County Fair" took on the responsibility of continuing the annual event.

DAVID F. ASHTON - With the help of dedicated volunteers, our own county fair still thrives each year at Oaks Park, led by "Friends of Multnomah County Fair" President Larry Smith.
"The County Commissioners even 'gave away' their fairgrounds to Metro, leaving us without a home," recalled the group's President, Larry Smith. "Fortunately, the fair has been welcomed with open arms by nonprofit Oaks Amusement Park – and they continue to be wonderful partners!"

While local county officials may now consider the Multnomah County Fair to be anachronistic, it's still relevant in society today, Smith assured THE BEE.

"There's been a resurgence of people growing gardens, being involved in photography, art, and needlecraft, as well as taking pride in their cooking and baking," Smith observed. "The county fair is where they can show their skills. And, we've seen a marked increase in families creating crafts together, too."

But one of the chief reasons the "Friends of Multnomah County Fair" has continued to keep this fair going is to promote youth opportunities, remarked Smith. "The 4-H Club programs are again beginning to thrive, providing wonderful opportunities for young people to develop their potential – learning things that will help them throughout their adult lives."

After touring the fair on the grounds of Oaks Park, many families went on to enjoy the carnival rides there – ranging from those for toddlers, up to the thrill rides – such as the newly-installed "Adrenaline Peak" roller coaster.

With a resurgence of "county fair fever", as chronicled recently in traditional and social media, the number of local volunteers has grown. "Having new people interested in helping in various capacities to put on our future county fairs promises a bright future for our fair!" Smith said. "Throughout the year, as many as 75 volunteers help in different capacities; and about a dozen volunteers are involved in it year 'round."

And, as early as the first week of June, the Friends of the Multnomah County Fair leaders were meeting to begin planning the 2019 Multnomah County Fair. To keep up with what's happening with your own county fair, you can go online anytime –

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