Looks like OSU Extension will roll up it’s analytical and academic sleeves to save the Lincoln County Fair
The vote Wednesday among Lincoln County Commissioners was unanimous. They’re willing to give OSU Extension a shot at revitalizing the Lincoln County Fair. And it’s on a fast track since some funding issues have to be refined and put into effect in early January.
OSU Extension Regional Administrator Sam Angima told the commissioners that they want what’s best for the community and a big part of that is creating a Lincoln County Fair that reflects the true life experiences of those who live and work in Lincoln County. OSU Extension can also bring to bear the full research power of Oregon State University in determining what county fair ingredients work well in Oregon. And that will help guide their fair programming.
Extension 4-H Coordinator Todd Williver said that the Lincoln County Fair should vigorously reach out to the four corners of the county to celebrate the social, cultural and economic character of the county. And that means the commercial and charter boat fishing industries, forestry, marine science, green energy from wind and air, aquaculture, education including K-12, OCCC, HMSC, and the soon-to-be Oregon State University Marine Sciences college at South Beach. He also gave critical importance to tourism, entertainment, the arts, local musicians and musical groups and, of course, to 4-H which continues to celebrate agriculture even though it’s only a small part of the local economic mix. He also envisions a rising importance of food production on the coast with the opportunities afforded with greenhouses, hoop houses and other sheltered food production.
There were some passing references to contracts that the old Town and Country Fair organization still has with those who provide bullriding competition, the carnival and other general entertainment at the fair. Williver said there’s a lot of support for keeping those in the mix but county commissioners quickly mentioned that there will be an opportunity in early January, at a statewide county fair conference in Salem, to have some or all of those contracts re-assigned to other county fairs if that’s the way it should go.
Funding for this summer’s Lincoln County Fair would come from the same pot of money it always comes from – Oregon Lottery funds – specifically set aside for supporting county fairs throughout Oregon. Williver said the fair must be sustainable – an aspect that will have to be fully studied – again with OSU Extension researchers.
A novel idea that Williver raised that would help spark higher attendance is to make admission to the fair free. Certain entertainment venues would charge admission once inside but otherwise everyone from everywhere could come to the fair and learn about Lincoln County and everything that goes on here. If the crowds were bigger, income to vendors would rise, participation fees would thereby increase and that might help offset some of the fair’s costs.
Lots to think about. Lots to talk about. And lots of details for OSU Extension to weigh in on. And, if there’s to be a 2015 Lincoln County Fair, they’re going to have to get real busy real quick. Angima and Williver seemed eager and ready to do just that.
The commissioners’ gave OSU Extension’s proposal a unanimous thumbs up but it’s technically a Lincoln County Fair Board decision. But it’s expected that it’ll go along with the county commission. Retired county public works director Jim Buisman and County Commissioner Bill Hall both serve on that board.