The Oregon State Fair will pitch its tent for the 156th time beginning Friday, August 26 and packing it up on Monday, September 5.
In between, organizers are expecting big crowds and a party to end the summer.
“There’s a reason we’re the biggest party in Oregon,” fair spokeswoman Kimberly Jacobsen said in a statement. “Our fair team works hard year-round to seek out new and diverse shows and attractions and cultivate new experiences. We combine these with the fair traditions that families love and keep people coming back year after year for the grand finale of the summer.
Impacted by Covid over the past two years, it is not expected that there will be the same social distancing or masking requirements in place, paving the way for the return of some fair favorites like the events of the pavilion and a barn full of animals open to the public.
Live music, food vendors, carnival, science shows, magic shows, aerial daredevils, monster trucks and rodeo activities will also be available for visitors this year. Plus, a way to save on tickets and all around fair costs.
“It takes a lot of teamwork and coordination to pull off an event of this magnitude,” Kim Grewe-Powell, CEO of the Oregon State Fair and Exposition Center, said in a statement. “We are extremely grateful to our very talented staff and the hundreds of seasonal workers and volunteers who partner with us to make the Oregon State Fair an unforgettable event. I’m so proud of our lineup for the 2022 show and invite everyone to come and enjoy the grand finale of the summer.
Although corn dogs, sno cones, and rides on the Zipper are mainstays of the state fair, there’s plenty more to see and do. Here’s Salem Reporter’s guide to what not to miss.
The engines will start revving on September 3 and 4 with monster truck shows starting at 2 p.m., promising trucks doing all sorts of tricks and stunts. Admission is free with a fairground ticket – and the car craze will end on September 5 at 2 p.m. with a little car wrecking derby.
The final Hell on Hooves Summer Showdown rodeo is scheduled for August 26-27 starting at 7 p.m. and will include bareback riding, barrel racing and poker with bulls. Rodeo Lights and Summer Nights will follow the rodeo each night for a concert featuring Ned LeDoux on August 26 and Maddie and Tae on August 27. Skip-the-line ticket holders (an additional $5 ticket) will have access to dancing on the pavilion’s dirty floor and a private bar.
chocolate cake contest
The annual Chocolate Cake Contest was a mainstay for Salem legend Gerry Frank, but his death doesn’t mean the end of the tradition. In honor of Frank’s 60 years as a cake judge, the contest now bears his name and will take place on Sunday, September 4 at 2 p.m. in the Creative Living Hall. Tom Hoffert, CEO of the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce, will judge.
Enter your best cake by bringing it to the Creative Living building on contest day. Attendees will receive free admission to the fair and a copy of Gerry Frank’s “Oregon” guide, courtesy of his estate.
R&B, County and other big bands are heading to the fair this year. Tickets for all eight shows are available online and start at $40, which includes free admission to the fair. VIP tickets start at $100 and include free parking, a souvenir lanyard, priority entry, special service voucher, access to the VIP drink bar and reserved seating. Gary LeVox, the lead singer of Rascal Flatts, on August 29 is ready to take the stage first. Shaggy follows on August 30, Bethel Music will premiere on August 31. TLC is slated for September 1, Scotty McCreery on September 2, and The Beach Boys on September 3. The show’s concert series will conclude with La Adictiva Banda San Jose de Mesillas on September 4 and Nelly on September 5. All concerts start at 7 p.m., except Nelly who will take the stage at 4 p.m.
If you are already at the show and wish to attend a concert, the number of reserved places is limited on a first come, first served basis.
Judging of many 4-H and Future Farmers of America contests is underway before the fair opens, but the winning animals will be on display for all to see. The poultry competition was canceled this year due to bird flu concerns, but Oregon’s finest rabbits, llamas, pigeons, goats and more will be there to welcome you.
Sponsored by O’Reilly Auto Parts, this bilingual article returns to the fair. August 28 and September 4 will feature bicultural and bilingual entertainment and activities on the Spirit of Oregon Stage. Activities include Loteria, tortilla art, and performances by artists like La Chomba and Los Humildes Hermanos Ayala.
A horse show
A multi-breed horse show will begin on August 28 and run until the end of the fair. It features horses for nine days in the Horse Show Stadium Arena. Performances are scheduled daily beginning at 9 a.m. with special afternoon performances beginning at 2 p.m. The horses will participate in a tribute to veterans and first responders and hold a draft horse raffle contest. Miniature horses, ponies, mules, burros, gypsy horses, drum horses and Tennessee walking horses are just a few of the breeds that will be on display.
Creative Living Exhibitions
The live acts get a lot of attention at the fair, but the quieter Creative Living exhibits are worth checking out. Inside the exhibit hall, you’ll find a range of artwork from Oregonians, including poetry, calligraphy, and photography, most of which is for sale. The Oregon State Archives will feature a special exhibit of promotional travel photos taken by the state highway department in the 1930s. There are also exhibits of building blocks, award-winning quilts, and even a table decoration contest. Plus, who doesn’t love taking pictures of the biggest pumpkin and best sunflower in the state?
What there is to know
The Oregon State Fair opens at 10 a.m. Friday and closes at 10 p.m. Monday, September 5 at the State Fairgrounds, 2330 17th St NE Some traffic changes and turning restrictions will be in effect throughout city streets near the fairgrounds, and the city has posted “no parking” signs in nearby residential areas that are in effect from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily during the fair.
Closing hours vary between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. daily. Carnival rides don’t open until 11 a.m. each day. Parking is $5 per vehicle and passes can be purchased on line.
Tickets are on sale now and available at Wilco Farm Stores and online at oregonstatefair.org/tickets for $8 until the fair opens. Tickets are also available at the door for $12 for adults, $10 for children, and $3 for seniors over 65. Children under five are admitted free.
Contact reporter Caitlyn May at [email protected].
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