RICKREALL — Polk County Fairgrounds & Events Center Manager Tina Andersen has for years wanted to have an island theme for the annual fair.
What: 2018 Polk County Fair “Tropical Nights and Country Lights.”
When: Aug. 9-11, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Where: 520 S. Pacific Hwy. West, Rickreall.
Admission: Adults, $8; juniors (ages 11-15), $5; seniors (62 and older), $5 (seniors get in free on Thursday until 4 p.m.); children 10 and under are free. Parking is $3 per car.
Tickets are available online at https://www.co.po... or at the gate.
This year, she has her wish with Polk County Fair 2018 “Tropical Nights and Country Lights.”
“We have been desperately trying to have it,” Andersen said. “We’ve had fun decorating. I have light-up flip-flops on my window.”
She isn’t the only one getting creative with the theme to the Polk County showcase event, running Thursday through Saturday.
The exhibit superintendents are all-in too.
“Our superintendents have come up some the cutest stuff for country lights,” Andersen said. “They’ve got little mason jars with little lights in them. They have really old lanterns that they are going to put battery-operated lights in. They’ve come up with some really cool decorations for that theme.”
Andersen said there’s much more than Tropical Nights to be excited about with a number of new, expanded or returning events dotting the schedule.
For the kids, a new entertainer Freddie Prez will set up shop in the playground area.
“He’s got this big 40-foot trailer and folds it all out. He has all these big screens and shoots stuff out of a cannon,” Andersen said. “He does two $5,000 contests and one $10,000 contest.”
Polk Soil & Water Conservation District, in partnership with OSU Extension, will host presentations at the Cultivating Family Activity Tent. Topics include beekeeping, composting, a creative take on making smoothies and a fun way to test if your garden’s soil is in good shape.
“They are doing some really cool stuff out there in their tent,” Andersen said. “SNAP, the food program, they are going to bring their bike and they have a blender on it.”
The tent will be open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. all three days of fair and will have activity or two going the entire time.
Fair Board Chairwoman Anna Scharf said PSWCD revamped its programing for 2018.
“These are new and different activities that we haven’t seen at the fair before,” Scharf said.
The entertainment schedule not only has up-and-coming country artist Trevor Tagle on Thursday night after the rodeo, and has an old favorite back in the lineup.
“We are bringing back the talent showcase this year, which we haven’t done in several years,” Andersen said. “Polk County Service Club, they are putting it together for us. We have the youth on Friday and adults on Saturday.”
Also new is the “Chicago-style UTV shootout,” which runs on a different format than Friday’s ATV rodeo.
It has two competitors starting on opposite sides of the arena and chasing each other in a race around an oval.
This is a glimpse of a sport that is rising in popularity, but still not common in the Northwest.
“I’m excited to bring it to the Polk County Fair,” said organizer Justin Barrett.“It’s pretty competitive and pretty neat to watch.”
The shootout takes place on Saturday, the closing night of fair
For those taking in the three evening events at the arena, you will be able to enjoy a beer or glass of wine at the new arena beer garden.
Thursday night is the rodeo, which comes free with admission, but remember, Thursday’s admission goes from $8 to $10 after 4 p.m.
This year, fairgoers can buy their tickets and parking passes ahead of time on the website: www.co.polk.or.us/fair/annual/2018-polk-county-fair.
“This is the first time you can buy tickets online for fair,” Andersen said.
For more previews of fair events, www.polkio.com.