The Oregon State Fair is trying some new things this year to grab your attention. For instance, there’s a whole new section that showcases adventure sports such as rock climbing and snowboarding.
There’s also something new in the livestock section. Officials are betting that baby barnyard animals will capture the hearts of 21st Century kids. Correspondent Chris Lehman has more.
Let’s face it, miniature horses are cute. But a baby miniature horse, now that’s off the charts. These two pre-school age girls at the Oregon State Fair are very impressed.
“Do you like to pet them?”
“Yeah. They’re very soft”
Amie Frison is the mother of one of the girls. Frison grew up on a farm but now lives in suburban McMinnville. She says coming to the fair is a way to keep her family in touch with its agricultural roots. She says getting up close to the animals is an important part of the learning process.
Amie Frison: “I think it depends on how the parents approach it all, and what they tell their kids when they come here. If they just let their kids run wild through the barns, or if they stop and take time to talk to the exhibitors and get some background on the animals and why they’re here, I think that would be really valuable.”
The miniature horses aren’t the only baby animals at this year’s fair. There are lambs, puppies, chicks and of course, piglets.
This mother sow is nursing about a dozen offspring for a crowd of enraptured youngsters. It’s the kind of thing fair program manager Nancy Frketich likes to see.
Nancy Frketich: “It’s a way to get people to the livestock area. They’ll look at the cute animals but they’ll also learn a little bit with the signage that we have.”
As cute as they are, baby animals might not be for everyone. That’s why fair officials have also added things like a kayak tank and Mexican-style wrestling.
Community Development Manager Connie Bradley says it’s always a balancing act between the newest fads and the tried-and-true.
Connie Bradley: “Fifty percent of our patrons are what we call traditionalists, that want to come and see the quilt displays, the farm and garden displays, the 4-H programs, and we will not abandon any of those programs. Our goal is to simply add more of what people are doing in their lives.”
And by doing so, attract more fairgoers. Attendance figures inched up last year after several years of decline. This year’s state fair runs through Labor Day in Salem.