A good year for the fair

Judging by preliminary numbers, Jackson County Fair attendance was up by about 12 percent from last year.

It seems the only attraction hurt by the mild weather at this year's fair was the WaterWorks exhibit. And even that only took a minor hit, according to fair director Chris Borovansky.

"Last year was down a little bit," Borovansky said. "But that's still a pretty significant increase."

Weather hovering in the 80s played a big role in the increased attendance, Borovansky added.

"The fair programs are always strong," Borovansky said, "but when it's 85 (degrees) rather than 105 — it makes a difference."

In its second year of charging general admissions to some of the concerts at the fair, Borovansky said that each show was a success, specifically the performances by Gretchen Wilson and Joan Jett.

Fairapalooza, a performance contest for local musicians, also did well, Borovansky added.

For future fairs, some concerts will hold a price tag, while all of the performances may be free with admission in other years.

"It depends on routing a lot," Borovansky said. "When we have the big shows we're going to need to recoup our costs. But we always want to make sure we provide entertainment for no charge."

The junior livestock auction brought in more than $900,000 for the 4-H and FFA youths who raised and sold pigs, steers and goats.

Borovansky said that figure was high for a fair in a market the size of the Rogue Valley.

"They typically only get those kinds of numbers in Denver or Fort Worth," Borovansky said.

The fair was largely incident-free, thanks to a host of security guards and help from the Jackson County Sheriff's Office and Fire District 3 in Central Point.

However, during Saturday's Motocross event, a dirt bike struck a 16-year-old Washougal, Wash., boy who was watching the show near the edge of the track.

According to Brad Grimes, the promoter of Southern Oregon Arena Cross, a motorcycle got loose coming around a turn and ran into the boy, who was left unconscious for several minutes.

Grimes said the boy was transferred to Rogue Valley Medical Center, where he remains while he recuperates from head trauma.

"They are waiting for him to get up and walk across the room and then he can go home," Grimes said. "I want everyone to know that I'm really sorry it happened. The doctors said he will make a full recovery."

Officials from Rogue Valley Medical Center said the boy is stable.

District 3 Deputy Fire Marshal Mark Moran said there were few other minor accidents, typical of motocross events, that happened during the weekend showcase.

Moran added that District 3's medical staff was kept busy with calls during the weeklong fair, most of which detailed routine things like friction burns from the giant slide, headaches and chest pains.

"All in all, it was pretty kind to us," Moran said.

Borovansky and his staff are set to have several meetings to discuss the success of this year's fair. He added that his staff is always looking for ways to improve the event.

One such method that will be considered is the potential to create more room for the carnival. Borovansky said next year's fair could include a giant Ferris wheel.

"That would be pretty cool," he added.

WaterWorks, a laser tag-like attraction, anticipated triple digit heat that would make fairgoers want to cool off. Despite cooler temperatures, WaterWorks picked up business over the weekend.

"They said they were happy," Borovansky said.

Reach intern Bob Albrecht at 776-8791 or e-mail intern1@mailtribune.com.

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