In a semi-final report on the 2011 Lincoln County Fair, Town and Country Fair manager Debra Jones re-iterated that although attendance at this year’s county fair was down slightly from last year, it was likely due to the fact that major events within and adjacent to Lincoln County were going on at the same time. Jones reported that the number of presenters and exhibits was considerably higher than in 2010 and that they are already planning next summer’s Lincoln County Fair. Improvements for 2012 include more open class animal entries, heavier emphasis on local agriculture as an offshoot of rising interest in farmers’ markets and floral exhibits. Jones said they’re also going to focus more on food, with the addition of pies. However she said that they’re trying to acquire the use of “rolling refrigerators” to keep berries, vegetables and other perishables fresh.
Jones also said she wants to improve the outdoor arena area. She said she managed to convince the school district to divert 150 yards of fill dirt removed from Yaquina View School to the arena area to even it out. She said she also wants to add bark chips where appropriate. She also reported that she’s talking with the job corps camp in Waldport about renovating the ticket booths at the fairgrounds. She said camp officials have offered to spruce ’em up free plus the cost of materials. Jones also said that a frequent complain from fairgoers was that there was no internet wifi available anywhere in the fairgrounds.
Jones raised the issue of using what is called “Vision Marketing,” whereby major advertisers like Coke, Pepsi or Petco will pay to have their product advertised as those attending the fair come in the gate. By handing out free samples of a product or discount coupon, the advertiser pays a small amount to the fair’s organizing entity; in this case Town and Country Fair. The Fair Board said it sounds like a good way to help Town and Country Fair finances stay in the black. The board tentatively approved the idea but subject to review by County Counsel Wayne Belmont. The Fair Board also pointed out that there is nothing to stop a local advertiser, like a charter boat operation, to have the same arrangement with the Town and Country. Jones agreed, but cautioned that a product or service cannot duplicate a product or service of an already approved commercial entity, for instance Rogue Ale could not sign up if Budweiser was already under contract to provide product to fair. Likewise, if Rogue was first, Bud would not be able to participate.
Correction: Newport was not the sole sponsor. It was one of a number of sponsors, and a very major one.
Celtic Games promoter Belinda Goody gave a wrap up report on their Celtic Festival and Highland Games event for which they are already planning for next year. They said it was a big success but that since the city of Newport is no longer shouldering many of the expenses of the event, it will be a bit like starting over. Goody and the Fair Board agreed that if next summer’s Celtic Festival turns a profit, some of that profit should be shared with the county fairgrounds, some of which will go to paying standard fees for having used the fairgrounds, power and so on. A three day run at the fairgrounds runs about six thousand dollars, but it’s a start. Goody told the Fair Board that they expect a number of other local sponsors to add to the mix.
Town and Country Fair manager Debra Jones said she strongly supports the Celtic Festival but cautioned that any start-up event usually requires a four to five year period to become financially stable. Up until then, she said, a rainy weekend can wipe out an event for good.
Again, the Fair Board said they’re “in” with the Celtic Festival for next June on the basis that if it makes money, they get a cut, if it doesn’t, they don’t. “Time will tell” seemed to be the bottom line among the commissioners.
Meanwhile the Celtic Festival group has already issued news release based on their feelings coming out of today’s Fair Board meeting:
THE CELTS RETURN TO NEWPORT!
Twelve drummers drumming… Eleven pipers piping… and a haggis in a pear tree!
Event organizers of the Newport Celtic Festival & Highland Games are excited to announce the Celts are returning to the Oregon Coast! The event was green lighted today when the Lincoln County Fair Board unanimously approved the organizer’s application to stage the event June 8-9-10, 2012 at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds. The festival celebrates the wonderfully diverse cultures of the seven Celtic Nations of Brittany, Cornwall, Galicia, Ireland, Isle of Man, Scotland and Wales.
The first-ever event (three months ago) saw an estimated 4,500 people experience live Celtic music, dance and athletics in Newport. Celtic market vendors, clans and cultural historians offered authentic food, drink, arts, crafts, family histories and other items deeply rooted in these rich cultures. The affordable family and dog friendly festival drew crowds from around Oregon and as far away as Idaho and Pennsylvania. Approximately 60% of attendees came from outside Lincoln County.
For 2012, the organizers are anticipating up to twice as many participants. With the festival now established as a first class fixture on the coastal calendar and a new “not to be missed” stop on the North West Celtic circuit for vendors, clans, and fans, the second event promises to raise the bar for festival goers. “We want to provide our patrons with an accurate portrayal of the culture of the seven Celtic nations from a historical perspective, but also hope to show how traditional Celtic arts have progressed to today’s modern culture,” says Executive Director Belinda Goody.
One aspect that sets this festival apart from similar Celtic events in the North West is an emphasis on the performing arts. Entertainment at the Newport event ranges from traditional Pipe and Drum Corps, dance set to Irish, Breton or Galician acoustic music to the electrified guitars, bagpipes and didjeridoos of Celtic tribal rockers. “The traditional songs, dance and art of the Celts include timeless stories handed down through generations which could be lost without these types of events” Goody added, “but it’s not just about Danny Boy or Auld Lang Syne, Celtic music is alive and well in many different forms.”
The festival also hosts many fun ‘fringe’ events during the week before the main event at the fairgrounds. One attraction that proved very popular last year is the Irish Céilí community dance. “Long before the advent of ‘Facebook’, these dances facilitated social networking for people who came from surrounding villages to socialize. Traditionally, these dances were a method of storytelling through music and anyone can join in the fun,” says Dance Chair Susan Spencer. “The response to the first one has been great, so we’re working on holding Céilís at other times throughout the year,” Spencer added.
On festival weekend, the event will kick into high gear on Saturday & Sunday when colorful market vendors and clans will once again fill the fairgrounds, multiple stages light up with continuous live music and dance and the Highland Games begin. The games feature traditional Scottish athletic contests of strength and skill like the weight for distance, hammer throw and the tossing of the caber, which involves flipping logs the size of small telephone poles, end over end. Last year, the heavy events drew 35 athletes ranging from novice to masters class. The highlight of the two-day contest was the Clan MacLaren challenge caber, a hand crafted timber measuring 18’6” long and weighing in at 136 lbs. Named for the Clan that made it, only athletes who successfully turn the regular caber during the competition get the opportunity to try their hand at turning the larger caber for a cash prize.
One of the more popular audience participation events returning is the Haggis Eating Contest. A traditional Scottish rustic food famous for its strong taste and smell, haggis often strikes fear in even the most adventurous foodie. The rules are simple. Gastronomic gladiators compete to be the fastest to finish their portion. The winner earns bragging rights and has an automatic invitation to represent Newport at the “Super Bowl” of haggis eating held each September at the Celtic Classic in Bethlehem, PA. Other contests at the 2011 event included the Kilted Kilometer fun run on the beach, with 35 tartan-clad runners ranging in age from 4 to 66. The Welsh Skillet Toss competition for ladies set a new record for distance and the Newport Fire Department took the Manx tug o’ war title.
2012 Newport Celtic Festival & Highland Games activities include:
• Irish Céilí (‘kay-lee’ or community dance party)
• Scottish Highland Games featuring special Newport challenges
• Live Bagpipe and Drum corps performances
• Live Celtic entertainment in music and dance
• Highland cattle and working dog demonstrations
• Celtic arts and crafts, food, and beverage vendors
• The Kilted Kilometer fun run and beach bonfire with the clans
• Single Malt Whisky Seminar, Haggis Eating and Skillet Toss contests
• Audience participation events (tug-o-war, Celtic tattoo and “bonnie knees” contests)
• Heritage displays featuring local history and clans who provide family histories and information
• Children’s events include face painting, storytelling, sword demos and a mini Highland Games
For 2012, the creators and principal organizers of the first event are back and will direct the festival as an independent 501(c)3 non-profit corporation. The Celtic Heritage Alliance, Inc. (CHA) was formed to better manage the annual festival, expand events year round and assure the authenticity of the Celtic culture presented to the community. The mission of the organization is to promote and preserve Celtic heritage through the creation and development of cultural events, activities, and programs. CHA is comprised entirely of local volunteers and business owners whose common bond is a desire to share their heritage. The goal is to provide ways for people to re-discover or become more involved with Celtic culture.
Persons interested in joining the CHA team are encouraged to visit the web site for more info on how they can get involved. The group is seeking volunteers to donate their time and/or resources, donors to contribute funds to help support the mission of the new non-profit organization, Celtic vendors interested in reserving a space at our festival market places and sponsors interested in associating their company name with one or more of the events planned by the CHA throughout the year.
For the latest details on all events, dates and more visit newportcelticfestival.com, or join our legendary “Fan Clan” on Facebook. To see video highlights, visit the NCFHG Youtube Channel. For general info call (541) 574-6530. For sponsorship queries, please contact Belinda Goody at (541) 563-7337 firstname.lastname@example.org.