The Lane County Fair in Eugene, Oregon, was established in 1859. It is one of the biggest county fairs in the Pacific Northwest, drawing more than 150,000 people over six summer days for a mix of events from traditional livestock competitions to extreme sports. As part of a Huffington Post Travel series on state and county fairs, here is our guide to making the Lane County Fair as fun and rewarding as possible.
A Regional Tradition For More Than A CenturyThe Lane County Fair has been held at the Lane Event Center in Eugene for more than 100 years. Even when the fairgrounds were established in 1909, the fair was already 50 years old. To put it in perspective, the very first Lane County Fair in 1859 preceded the Pony Express, the Civil War and the criminal career of outlaw Jesse James. While the fair certainly has its roots in the Old West, its present-day incarnation is as modern as it is old-fashioned.
Where Old Meets NewThe Lane County Fair hosts a slew of familiar attractions, like livestock shows, auctions, baking competitions and flower and quilt shows. But there's also plenty of new stuff that's quickly becoming part of the fair's long-standing tradition. There are sculptures made of recycled material on display, as well as computer art, freestyle motocross and an extreme-sports stunt show.
A Diverse SoundtrackMusical entertainment includes live performances by country, soul, rock, jazz, a capella and disco artists. Main stage entertainment has included big-name acts like Foreigner, the Charlie Daniels Band and David Lee Roth. All of the entertainment is included in the modest admission price of $9 for adults and $6 for seniors and kids ages 6 through 15. Admission is free for children under 5.
Carnival RidesThe Lane County Fair midway features more than two dozen carnival rides and has featured crowd-pleasing favorites such as the Zipper, the Sea Dragon, an old-fashioned carousel and a grand Ferris wheel. The variety of rides ensures that there's excitement in store for patrons of all ages. In 2011, ride ticket prices were lowered to 50 cents, down from $1 a ticket in previous years, making the midway an affordable part of the county-fair experience.
Fri-Jos And Other Sweet TreatsNo county fair experience is complete without food, and the Lane County Fair offers plenty of traditional carnival vittles. The fair's culinary specialty are fri-jos, Swedish fried pastries that are similar to elephant ears. In addition to vendors, there are many baking, candy and cake-decorating contests.
Community EntertainmentThere's no shortage of aspiring performers in Lane County, and patrons can watch them in a variety of amateur showcases, including a talent show sponsored by Eugene Weekly. There's also a play circus for children that draws participants from the audience and plenty of opportunities to meet and greet local artists and authors.
Senior PerksSenior citizens have a special place at the Lane County Fair's Senior Social. A $2 ticket will gain admission to the fair and entry to the performance hall, where refreshments are served and entertainment and vendors are on hand. There's also bingo all day, every day, for the duration of the fair at 50 cents a game, with proceeds going to a fund that helps the elderly pay their winter heating bills.
A nifty slideshow of compelling ride images from the Lane County Fair, including the scary (Sea Dragon) and the kiddie-friendly (Mardi Gras Funhouse), all set to Evanescence's "Bring Me To Life."
What's your favorite Lane County Fair attraction?
Check out more FAIR GUIDES.
Photo: _Shward_; Flickr