Hoofing it at the fair
Hollywood the hog was on a midday mission at the Marion County Fair Friday.
His tender, Paige Schuster of the St. Paul Green Grazers 4H Club, worked her charge diligently to keep his focus en route to the competition chutes, while her helpers flanked Hollywood with flatboards so he wouldn't get distracted.
At about the same time another show hog of similar ilk appeared to be racing its handler in the opposite direction of the showpen – and winning by a nose.
Moments later Schuster capably steered Hollywood around the bustling showpen with more than a half dozen other hogs hailing from around the county.
That scurry was but a snapshot of the activity around the livestock area of the Oregon State Fairgrounds, where 4H and FFA participants turned out in record numbers. Hogs, hens, horses, goats, sheep, cattle and even a wide assortment of bunnies were among the swirl of showings on the east side of the grounds.
At that time of day, the livestock area, which included a number of participants from St. Paul, Gervais, North Marion and Mt. Angel, was clearly the busiest area, save maybe the building housing the flyball dog demonstrations.
Such activity was anticipated prior to the fair's opening.
"How impressed we are (with) the 4H and FFA entries this year," the fair's event coordinator, Jill Ingalls, told the Marion County Board of Commissioners two weeks prior to the fair opening. "Last year we set a record for the number of youth participating and the number of entries. And they surpassed that again this year.
"There will be more swine at the Marion County Fair than at the state fair," she added. "We're pretty impressed with Marion County's turnout."
Melanie McCabe, who works with 4H youth development for the the Oregon State University Extension Service, agreed, and even itemized the lot.
"At this point in the barn we have 225 sheep, 202 pigs – the numbers are very specific," McCabe ennumerated. "We have 160 goats total. We have 150 poultry, 180 rabbits, 67 beef animals and 36 dairy cattle. We also have 72 horse exhibitors.
"Every area but the horses is up this year," McCabe said. "We have 50 more pigs and 35 more sheep than we did last year. Last year we had 217 lots in our auction, and this year we are right around 275."
Sheep-showing Artemis Anderson of Mount Angel is included in the number. As McCabe was ticking off the numbers, Anderson was outside among the ado working over one of her blue-ribbon winners.
"This is Duke. We also have Daisy, Bo and Luke: we are doing a 'Dukes of Hazzard' theme this year," she quipped.
Another group that increased this year was the camelids, such as alpacas and llamas.
"It's been really fun this year because the number of camelids (showings) is really up," said Casey Turney of the Camelids and Critters Club.
Away from the barn the fair's fare included a broad assortment of crafty entries and displays: photography, painting, sketchings, legos, veggies, floral arrangements and even competitive table settings.
"We're really trying to get community engagement, and there are all kinds of ways to be connected," said Tamra Goettsch of Marion County Community Services Department. "Celebrating our community in all its great diversity."
"There are literally hundreds and hundreds of contests, from poetry to art to baking, hobbies: the Legos have been popular, getting a lot of kids interested in that," Ingalls said. "(The array is) Not just the traditional things; we want to mix it up a little bit….There's just a million things, it feels like, that you can enter."
Hollywood would be counted as one of the traditional entries. And that suited Schuster just fine , who beamed as she pointed out the ribbons the two of them earned.
After the critter shows, fair food, ice cream, rides or some other entertainment may have been in store. But the overarching event ideal is the same – fun.
"Bottom line: I enjoy it every year, and I think the people who come do too," County Commissioner Sam Brentano said. "And it gets better every year."
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