For people itching for their fix of carnival rides, livestock shows, music, local food, shopping and other activities all in one place, the Washington County Fair is back and ready to deliver.
While the fair will include most of its usual features, it will look different than it did in years before its 2020 cancellation due to the pandemic.
This will be a year of firsts at the fair, said Lisa DuPre', the fair's marketing and events coordinator.
The festivities kick off at 5 p.m. Friday, July 23, at 801 N.E. 34th Ave. in Hillsboro at Westside Commons, previously known as the Washington County Fair Complex.
It's the first year the fair will use the Wingspan Event & Conference Center, which was under construction from 2018 to summer 2020.
People will be able to explore even more commercial vendors offering specialty goods than in previous years at the state-of-the-art 89,000-square-foot building, DuPre' said.
This is also the first year the fair will take place over the course of 10 consecutive days and two weekends from July 23 through Aug. 1.
As always, admission to the fair is free. Fair doors open at 5 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Additionally, parking at Westside Commons will be free Monday, July 26, through Thursday, July 29.
With the steady growth of the fair in recent years, fair officials had planned to forego the traditional four-day format and debut a 10-day format in 2020, DuPre' said.
Earlier this year, as planning for the fair was under way, the extended format became a convenient way to spread out activities and people as uncertainty about pandemic conditions persisted, she said.
Now, even though nearly all COVID-19 restrictions were lifted statewide last month, the 10-day format gives people who want to avoid large weekend crowds the opportunity to come during the week, DuPre' said.
People won't be seeing the big-name performances that came to fair in prior years, however, DuPre' said, because fair officials had to book entertainment when it was still unclear what the pandemic conditions would be.
The Washington County Fair Board didn't make the final call about whether to have a fair until April, DuPre' said.
But she added that bands including Catherine Loyer & Strawberry Roan and The Rock Bottom Boys, as well as entertainment such as the Matt Baker Comedy + Stunt Show and hypnotist Tina Marie, will give people plenty to see.
Although things might be more spread out due to pandemic planning, the fair will feature the same number of food vendors and carnival rides as in previous years, DuPre' said.
People can expect fewer heads of livestock being displayed by 4-H groups than usual due to pandemic uncertainty leading up to the summer, she said.
"In April, nobody was really sure what it would look like, what the guidance would be," DuPre said. "We had to be optimistic and roll our sleeves up and plan. Well, (the pandemic) got much better, luckily, for the community. Some stuff just couldn't materialize, but there will still be a lot to do."
She said one of the best aspects of the fair is that people have always been able to curate their own diverse fair experience.
That won't change this year, she said, despite some lingering pandemic-related adjustments.
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