SALEM — As the Oregon State Fair prepares to open its doors Friday, 4-H’ers Jessica Simpson and Kaitlyn Bloom are excited to show off their Boer goats and make new friends.
“Showing is my passion,” Simpson, 14, said. “At the state level it’s more competitive.”
But she’s not worried. She described herself as being “really competitive” as well.
Simpson has been part of 4-H for five years. She is a member of the Livestock Royalty group from Deschutes County in Central Oregon.
At age 13, Bloom is attending her first Oregon State Fair. Originally from Sonora, Calif., she has been a member of 4-H for four years. She is part of two groups, the 40 Swiners for pigs and one for goats.
Bloom enjoys showing because she gets to know her animals’ characteristics better.
The fair starts Friday, Aug. 25, and runs through Monday, Sept. 4, at the Salem fairgrounds. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The carnival opens daily at 11 a.m.
This year the fair features a new Agricultural Showcase Stage, six new rides and new special events and featured performances.
The fair also continues hosting signature agricultural events, such as the 4-H and FFA competitions and the Open Class Livestock exhibits.
“We are proud of the increasing popularity of the Oregon State Fair — and are thrilled we’ve continued to grow from year to year,” said Dan Cox, a fair spokesman. “The event uniquely combines the excitement of today with the nostalgia of yesteryear. As soon as fairgoers enter the gate, there are events, experiences and activities to remind them or inspire them — no matter what their age.”
Starting Friday, the Agricultural Showcase stage will feature presentations and activities related to agriculture. It will be in a tent on the west side of the Forster Livestock Pavilion. The purpose of the stage is to allow “an opportunity to bridge the gap between producer and consumer,” Brooke Broadbent, organizer of the showcase, said.
“The stage is an opportunity to show different aspects of the industry as a whole, and the importance of agriculture in everyday life,” she said.
Events include the Oregon leaders’ annual Goat Milking Showdown, the Dairy Princess meet and greet, country-western dance lessons and Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom “Egg Day,” when they’ll give out 1,500 eggs on a stick.
There will also be speakers from the Capital Press, and Oregon Forest Resource Institute, as well as booths from agricultural organizations, such as the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Farm Bureau.
Elsewhere this year, the fair will also offer animal attractions, such as Creature Feature Extreme and Dog Town, as well as the horse shows and competitions and livestock competitions.
The horse shows are featured throughout the day, with events including a drill team competition, a miniature horse demonstration and Tennessee Walkers.
The livestock competition categories are Open Class Livestock and 4-H and FFA horses, along with small animal competitions.
Agriculture and horticulture competitions include farm and garden, floral, honey and other products of the hive.
New this year are Cirque Ma’Ceo — an acrobatic equestrian show — and the Colors of Fun Fire Finale, featuring the Sacred Fire Dance Company and its nightly exhibition of pyrotechnic special effects.
Tickets are available at the Cirque Ma’Ceo website and the 20-minute fire show is every night free with admission.
Eleven concerts are in the 2017 line-up: Dwight Yoakam, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, the Salem Symphony, Josh Turner, For King and Country, Kenny Loggins, Third Eye Blind, Vince Neil, Trace Adkins, the Salem Symphony and Eddie Money.
All of the 11 concerts are free with fair admission except the Salem Symphony performances. Limited VIP seating is available for all of the performances for $35 online.
In addition to the 40 carnival rides, the fair is offering six new ones: the Vortex, Shockwave, bumper cars, Mardi Gras and the new Rainier Expo Wheel. One ride ticket is 50 cents, 120 tickets are $50 and 250 tickets for $100. An unlimited ride wristband is also available for $50.
Other contests include Creative Living Competitions, featuring a new First Lego League Global Scientific Challenge, and four culinary and beverage contests, including the 58th Gerry Frank Chocolate Layer Cake Contest.
There are 10 opportunities for deals and discounts, including Senior Day, Free Kids Day and Two Dollar Tuesday.
For more information and tickets, visit oregonstatefair.org.