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Event will include some favorite features that were missing from last year's fair.

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - A sign on the Columbia County Dairy Women's usual spot at the fair reads 'Disappointed? So are we! The Columbia County Dairy Women will return in 2022.'The 2022 Columbia County Fair & Rodeo is fast approaching.

The fair, back in full swing after a pared down 2021 year, will take place Wednesday, July 20, through Sunday, July 24.

The barns will again be full of 4-H kids showing off the livestock they've raised. Columbia County Dairy Women, who serve up ice cream, will be back after a year off.

The "Back in the Saddle Again" fair will kick off on July 20 with senior citizen and veteran day (with free admission for those groups). The day will include what is likely the final year of the My Fair Lady pageant for senior volunteers.

On Thursday, youth ages 17 and younger can get in for free. A Western kids costume contest will also take place.

The junior rodeo will start at 6 p.m. on Thursday. The rodeo hosted by the National Professional Rodeo Association will start at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

On the final day, admission will be just $5 and the fair will include a Rascal Rodeo, a rodeo specifically for people with physical and developmental disabilities, for the first time.

Except for Sunday, one-day admission is $6 for youth or seniors. A one-day adult ticket is $10 on Wednesday and Thursday and $15 on Friday and Saturday. Tickets can be purchased online or at the entrance.

The big difference this year will be the return of crowds of 4-H kids and their animals, fair board president Julie Pelletier said.

Pelletier's favorite part of the fair is visiting the animals, which provides a calming break in the middle of a hectic fair week.

"I just really enjoy checking out the pigs, the cows, the rabbits — but especially the horses. I love it when we have the full horse barns. I just go look at them, scratch their heads and hang out with them, and just kind of take a minute and de-stress," Pelletier said.

The annual plant sale, which raises money for the fair, will take place the week before fair. From Wednesday, July 13, through Friday, July 15, the plant sale will be open from noon to 7 p.m.

On Saturday, July 16, it will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This year's fair board has less experience than in past years. This is Pelletier's third summer on the fair board, but the 2020 fair was canceled and the 2021 fair was smaller than in typical years.

Pelletier is the only board member to have served for the past three years, but MaryAnn Guess, a former board member and current county treasurer, has returned to the board. PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - A woman holds up a sign supporting Vernonia's princess at the 2021 My Fair Lady pageant.

Other board members have experience volunteering with the fair, former board members like Butch Guess still volunteer, and some organizers in 4-H, rodeo and other fair mainstays have been active for years.

Fair office staff Hanna Russell and Abby Russell are integral in everything going on at the fairgrounds, Pelletier said, including a recent effort to bring more public events and rentals to the fairgrounds all through the year.

The fair usually hires six to eight temporary employees through Cardinal, a local temp agency, but they're having a hard time filling those roles this year, Pelletier said.

Between the plant sale, fair and rodeo, there are around 150 volunteers signed up so far, mostly to pick up trash during the fair.

Fair organizers are still looking for volunteers, particularly for the plant sale. Prospective volunteers can visit the fairgrounds website or call the fair office at 503-397-4231.

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