Heritage Fair a wholesome, fun activity for families

COTTAGE GROVE – In its 90th year, the W. O. E. (Western Oregon Exposition) Heritage Fair brought its magic to town last weekend. This all-volunteer labor of love brings warm, family fun to Cottage Grove in a relaxed setting.

While not intending to be a well-kept secret, one kind of has to be in the know to find the fairgrounds – tucked in between the Speedway and the City’s wastewater treatment plant.

Passing through the gates is like stumbling into an old-time county fair, an Americana that has locally grown fruits, vegetables, flowers, crafts, art and other handiwork competing for bragging rights, along with displays from local Granges and a special exhibit of logging history.

Over at the livestock barn there are chickens, ducks, rabbits, goats, guinea pigs, donkeys, pigeons proudly displaying their ribbons. A demonstration of sheep shearing took place and 4-H style judging was held.

A special contest was held for costumed animals patiently enduring hats, dresses and even branches while their handlers explained the get-up to the judges.

Out back, the steady “thump-pomb” of the antique hit-and-miss farm equipment shared space with Model-T Fords which took visitors on a spin around the environs. The smaller fry squeezed into the iconic blue barrel train to tour the fairgrounds waving back at those enchanted by their cuteness as they wound through the crowds.

Visitors explored the varied vendors who were laid out around the grounds and in the various fair buildings. Spinning and canning demonstrations were offered along with the chance to make a corn husk doll at the Singing Creek Educational Center booth – all while live music from the stage at the Woodard Pavilion drifted over the gathering.

The smells from different food booths added to the allure along with some traditional fair food offerings of cotton candy and elephant ears. An active kids zone had quite a workout by the wee folk along with the rope monkey bridge to test their agility and offering a chance to conquer their fear of heights.

A small store dealing in prizes was there, too, allowing the kids to cash in tokens they had earned during the three day fair for different activities such as digging through a huge pile of straw looking for treasures, the only rule being “no throwing hay.”

Another opportunity to shine was the wooden race car contest offered by the Awana Cottage Grove Bible Church. Kids received guidance in turning a block of wood into a sleek racing machine, adding wheels and a fancy paint job and getting to show up on Sunday afternoon for the “Grand Pris Race.”

The bleachers were packed with families and supporters as the surprisingly sophisticated system recorded the times, showing the finishes on the screen of the three car heats. Times were added to the racing brackets, and the “drivers” summoned for the next heat. In the end the first, second and third place finishers were awarded medals for their victory, but all left with their cars full of the pride of craftsmanship and having competed well.



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