A grape-stomping contest is a feature at the annual Jackson County Harvest Fair. - MT file photo

The 2009 Jackson County Harvest Fair

This year's Harvest Fair promises pumpkin painting, a pie-eating contest and a host of old-fashioned, fall activities for the whole family.

"It's a real family-friendly opportunity," said Chris Borovansky, Jackson County fair manager. "It's not like you have to go buy a bunch of carnival wristbands."

The Harvest Fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 26-27, at the Jackson County Fairgrounds and Exposition Park, 1 Peninger Road, Central Point.

Last year, about 11,000 people came out to the Harvest Fair.

"We jokingly refer to it as the county fair without the revenue," Borovansky said.

The 2009 Harvest Fair includes several new attractions and the return of many traditional favorites.

New this year are the Iron Chef of the Rogue Valley competition, 11 a.m. Sunday in the Mace Building; an ice carving competition, 11 a.m. Saturday in the Mace Building; and an old-fashioned swap meet and paintball battles at 10 a.m. both days in the paved lot.

The Iron Chef competition features six local chefs who compete to prove their cooking mastery by preparing an entree in one hour using a protein item that will be revealed to them on Sunday. Participating restaurants include Elements Tapas Bar & Lounge, Omar's Restaurant in Ashland, Rogue Valley Manor, Chadwick's Pub in the Rogue Regency Inn and Joe's Sports Bar & Grill in Grants Pass. The winning chef receives a cash prize. The Iron Chef of the Rogue Valley competition and the ice carving competition are sponsored by the American Culinary Federation.

In the ice-carving event, professional carvers will use chain saws, chisels and other tools to create a work of art from a block of ice in one hour.

The Oregon Flea Market promises a wide variety of antiques, collectibles, arts and crafts and new and used furniture for people searching for a buy.

Other fair highlights this year include the Southern Oregon Brewfest, featuring 40 brews and opening at noon Saturday and Sunday in the Olsrud Arena; the annual chili cook-off open for public tasting at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Compton Grass East End; draft horse pulls at 1 p.m. both days in the Isola Arena; Australian shepherd sanctioned stock dog trials open to all breeders at 10 a.m. both days in the Krouse Barn; the Championship Grape Stomp at 4 p.m. Saturday on the Grape Stomp Stage south of the Compton Arena; and a pie-eating contest held at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Compton Grass East End.

Roosters Restaurant has donated 24 fall-flavored pies, including marionberry, pumpkin and apple, for the pie-eating contest, which was a big hit last year, said Borovansky.

"That's one of the old-fashioned fun events that whether you're watching or participating, it's a real kick in the pants," he said.

"They're good pies. I know that," said Jim Potter, owner of Rooster's.

A live music festival will be held on the Harvest Fair Stage throughout the weekend, featuring acts that include Jason Johnston, the Rhythm Kings, Dandelion Jo and Karen Lovely. Saturday will feature country music, and Sunday will feature jazz and blues. Concerts are free to all fairgoers.

Fairgoers also will find some returning favorites, including Annie the Clown, mini horses, livestock displays, BMX freestyle performer Dave Nourie, the Wild Rogue Pro Rodeo Drill Team, the Jackson County Stockmen's Association Club Calf Sale and Heifer Futurity and food booths, including international varieties such as Cajun, Mexican, Asian, Italian and American. For a schedule of the events, see www.jcfairgrounds.com.

Gate admission is $6 for adults. Children under 12 admitted free. Parking is free. Call 774-8270.

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