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Get your feet wet at the annual Grape Stomp held at the Jackson County Harvest Fair. - Photo by Jamie Lusch

Fun by the barrel or by the bushel

Pumpkin-carving, apple-pie bake-offs, lawn-mower races and watermelon seed-spitting contests are just some of the country-style merriment that will fill the first days of autumn at the Jackson County Harvest Festival from Friday to Sunday, Sept. 23-25.

Add that to a bounty of quality products from regional farmers, ranchers, brewers, wineries and artisan-food producers, along with livestock exhibits and competitions and hobby and craft exhibits, and you've got a salute to the fall season.

New to this year's fair is a preview night held from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday. Exhibits and vendors will be open. There will be a ballroom-dance competition and lawn-mower races, along with stock dog, horse and cow competitions.

Local musicians David Pinsky and Joe Diehl will play acoustic blues at 6 p.m. for folks walking into the fair on Friday night. Country music artists Jason Johnston and Mike Boren will perform at 7 p.m.

Admission to Friday's preview costs $4 and includes free admission to the fair on Saturday or Sunday.

Also new this year, dine on Dungeness crab with drawn butter and coleslaw at 6 p.m. Saturday. The seafood dinner costs $20 and is provided by the Wharf Fresh Seafood Market & Eatery, with hot rolls and honey butter from Roadhouse Grill. The dinner is limited to the first 200 people.

On Sunday morning, the Harvest Fair will be the finish line for the inaugural Rogue Half Marathon. Runners will race along the Bear Creek Greenway, starting from Lynn Newbry Park in Talent at 8:10 a.m.

Fair gates are open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Among the annual highlights is the Grape Stomp Championship. Teams will compete in preliminaries at noon, 2 and 4:30 p.m. Saturday, and at noon and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, with the final competition at 4:30 p.m.

This year's chili cook-off is at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, and the barbecue contest is at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Save room for dessert, because pie-eating contests are set for 3 p.m. each day.

The microbrew fest will run from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, and winners of the fair's amateur beer, wine, soda and label competition will be displayed.

There's live music throughout the weekend. Look for the Rhythm King Trio, the D-28 Band, the Taylor Rose Band, Hired Hands, Salsa Brava, Teri Cote & the Randalz and Karen Lovely on Saturday. Sunday's shows will feature Broadway Phil and the Shouters, Smoky Red, Bustin' Out, the Robbie DaCosta Band and The Rogue Suspects.

Also look for a paint-ball course, a pumpkin catapult and draft horse pulls.

Fair admission on Saturday and Sunday costs $7, $3 for kids 6 through 12 and free for kids 5 and younger.

See www.jcfairgrounds.com for a detailed schedule.

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