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Oregon State Fair

oregon state fair, oregon state fair 2018
The Oregon State Fair is the official state fair of the US state of Oregon It takes place every August–September at the 185-acre 075 km2 Oregon State Fairgrounds located in north Salem, the state capital, as it has almost every year since 1862 In 2006, responsibility for running the fair was delegated to the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department, and the division is now known as the Oregon State Fair & Exposition Center OSFEC, which holds events on the fairgrounds year-round


  • 1 History
    • 11 1967 Fire
    • 12 National Register of Historic Places
    • 13 Heritage oak grove
    • 14 Reorganization
  • 2 Events
  • 3 Facilities
  • 4 Gallery
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links


Horse and buggy Oregon State Fairgrounds 1867

As Oregon agriculture expanded in the early 19th century many communities formed agricultural associations for the purpose of sharing information on farming practices and resources These groups began to organize county fairs such as the Yamhill County Fair 1850 Shortly thereafter the Oregon Farmer newspaper began calling for a statewide fair A group of farmers known as the Oregon Fruitgrowers Association organized the first unofficial state fair in 1858 That year is recognized as the official anniversary year of the fair1

The fairgrounds circa 1881

In 1860, the association merged with other county groups and became the Oregon State Agricultural Society, who held the first official fair in 1861 in the Gladstone/Oregon City area It was felt a larger area was needed and following a proposal by the Marion County Agriculture Society, the second official state fair was held in Salem in 1862 on the grounds of the Marion County Fair where it has remained ever since12 Homesteader John Savage donated 8 acres 32,000 m2 of his land, which was three miles 5 km outside of Salem at the time, while pioneer John Minto contributed $1,200 to build a wooden fence around the grounds3 The fairgrounds were annexed into Salem in 19213

Aerial view of the 1967 fire

The fair has been held every year on the same site, except in 1905, because the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition was taking place in Portland that year, and during the World War II years of 1943 and 1944; instead the fairgrounds were leased to military units as a place to bivouac3 Also, although the 1942 fair was held, it was scaled back to only include 4-H displays, livestock exhibits, and displays from 27 Oregon counties, so it was not considered an official State Fair3

1967 Fireedit

In 1967, an arson occurred just before the opening of the fair, burning several large structures Along with the fair commissioners, Governor Tom McCall felt the fair should go on, so many groups donated time and money for the cleanup and sent facilities like tents from as far away as the Portland Rose Festival so the fair could open1

National Register of Historic Placesedit

Oregon State Fair Stadium and Poultry Building Ensemble
US National Register of Historic Places
Poultry Building 1920s
Location 2330 17th Ave NE
Salem, Oregon
Built 1919, 1921
Architectural style Mission/Spanish
NRHP Reference # 02000671
Added to NRHP June 20, 2002

The state fairground is the site of two historic buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Oregon State Fair Stadium and Poultry Building Ensemble The 1919 horse stadium and the 1921 poultry building were added to the register in 200245 The poultry building is known for the "chicken head" relief sculptures that decorate the exterior The horse stadium is the oldest state building in Oregon in continuous use6

Heritage oak groveedit

View of part of the 2016 state fair

In 2007, a 200-year-old grove of Oregon White Oaks across the street from the main fairgrounds was designated by the Oregon Heritage Tree Committee as an Oregon Heritage Tree site The grove was used as a camping and gathering place by the area's original inhabitants, the Kalapuya, who collected acorns and camas there7 The site later became a camping place for fairgoers who originally arrived in wagons and created a tent city during the fair; the practice of camping in the grove continued into modern times7


Following a period of financial trouble, the Oregon Legislative Assembly directed the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to take over management of the fair in 20062 As of 2008, the fair's slogan was: "It's like a magical enchanted land Except real"


Through the years the fair has showcased Oregon crops and livestock, arts, and culture, and has hosted many food booths and vendors as well as judging competitions, horse racing and popular entertainers In 2007 the fair hosted its first Lucha Libre Hispanic wrestling event18


Outdoor concerts are held at the L B Day Amphitheatre, which was named in 1987 for L B Day, an Oregon State Senator and supporter of the fair1

The Oregon State Fairgrounds Pavilion, completed in 2004, is the newest building on the fairgrounds The 5,000-seat indoor pavilion is used year-round for a variety of events1 The pavilion and parking replaced a badly deteriorated grandstand that was built in 1929, and the horse racing track5 Architectural ornaments from the grandstand's facade were to be salvaged and incorporated into the replacement building3

The Salem Armory Auditorium is located on a corner of the fairgrounds site, but is not affiliated with the State Fair This concert venue is owned by the Oregon Military Department9



  1. ^ a b c d e f "Fair History" Oregon State Fair Retrieved December 8, 2013 
  2. ^ a b Baker, Mark 2007-08-26 "Fairly rooted in state history" The Register-Guard Arcadia Publishing Retrieved 2008-04-05 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Oregon State Fair" Salem Online History Salem Public Library Retrieved 2008-04-05 
  4. ^ "Oregon National Register List" PDF Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department July 16, 2007 Retrieved 2008-04-05 
  5. ^ a b "State fair officials seek to document buildings" The Register-Guard thefreelibrarycom March 22, 2002 Retrieved 2008-04-05 
  6. ^ Hughey, Ray March 19, 2004 "Pavilion planned as star of 2004 Oregon State Fair" Daily Journal of Commerce Portland, Oregon: findarticlescom Retrieved 2008-04-05 
  7. ^ a b "Historic Oak Grove at the State Fairgrounds" PDF Oregon Heritage Programs Spring 2007 Newsletter Oregon Travel Information Council Retrieved 2008-04-05 
  8. ^ Griffin, Brook 2007-08-25 "Oregon State Fair hosts Lucha Libre event tonight" Statesman Journal 
  9. ^ "Salem Auditorium" Oregon Military Department Retrieved 2008-04-05 

External linksedit

  • Oregon portal
  • Oregon State Fair official website
  • Historic images of the Oregon State Fair from Salem Public Library
  • Image of the now-demolished grandstand from salemoregoncom
  • Historic images of the grandstand from the Historic American Buildings Survey

Coordinates: 44°57′33″N 123°00′29″W / 4495917°N 12300806°W / 4495917; -12300806

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