Of the Baker City Herald

Got a hankering to take your stick horse for a ride around the circuit?

As you age, are you starting to resemble your pet? Can your breath send small seeds hurtling through the air?

Can you drink large quantities of milk under a time pressure? Do you yearn to smash your past-its-prime vehicle into, well, anything that moves?

Then the Baker County Fair, which gets underway in earnest Wednesday, has a spot for you.

Or, if all that madcap activity sounds too strenuous, area residents can find a seat in the bleachers and simply enjoy the spectacle of approximately 246 area children showing the animals they've raised, often from birth.

Or they can stroll around the grounds and take in the ceramics, clothing, woodworking, knitting and crocheting, photographs and, of course, food items that are competing for the coveted blue ribbon.

The 64th Annual Baker County Fair is officially under way at 8 a.m. Wednesday with market animal weigh-ins. The fair's second annual Demolition Derby will close the weekend's action at 7 p.m. Saturday.

A handful of activities the Style Revue, Horse Show and Dog Show, and food judging has already been completed.

The theme this year as it is with county fairs across the state is andquot;Red, White and Blue: This Fair's For You.andquot;

If they haven't as they strolled or drove by the fairgrounds already, fair-goers will notice one change immediately. Two tents and one greenhouse have been erected to replace buildings torn down in anticipation of armory construction.

The greenhouse, which normally resides at Eagle Cap Nursery, will keep sheep, llamas and goats out of the sun, according to Fair Manager Laurie Bean. One of the rented tents will serve as the sale barn and sheep arena. The other will house swine and hold the swine show ring.

Many of the activities planned across the four-day run of the fair are open to anyone who simply shows up. Others are reserved just for 4-H or FFA members.

A fair button, which can be purchased for $2 at the gate, allows the wearer in for all four days of the fair. Others pay $1 per day.

Wednesday has four open events. The Stick Horse Race is at 3 p.m. Bean suggests that youngsters bring their favorite pony, although a limited number will be available for use the day of the race.

The other three open events are a Sheep Show at 7 p.m., a Sheep Fitting Contest at the same time, and the annual Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest at 8 p.m.

Singer Nancy Galt will entertain Wednesday evening.

Most of the day Thursday will be spent judging animals, but three open events promise lots of fun as well.

The Pet/People Look-Alike Contest, set for 3 p.m., will offer prizes to the people who most closely resemble their pets. Bean encourages entrants to dress up either themselves or their pets or, better still, both to enhance their entries.

The Barnyard Olympics will be nothing like you've seen on network television. A little like a farm triathlon, teams of three will have to putt wooden eggs into a bucket, hook up handline, and climb over panels dressed in hip waders and carrying a bucket of water.

A Family Fun Night in the Rodeo Arena will cap Thursday's open events. Contestants will try their hand at barrel racing and pole racing and capture a calf during the calf scramble. They'll be vying for T-shirts.

Special music will be offered both Thursday and Friday evenings. The bands Leather and Lace and Salt Lick #39 will each play both nights.

The Pedal Tractor Trials, so popular among the county's youngest residents last year, will be reprised at 3 p.m. Friday. Youth from three divisions 4-5, 6-7 and 8-9 will see who's the fastest around the parking lot atop cycle-powered tractors.

Ranch Sorting in the Rodeo Arena will begin at 6:30 p.m. Two-people teams will get numbered cows into pens in order. The event is open to people of all ages.

andquot;People are very serious about this one,andquot; Bean said of the event.

A full slate of open events will finish the fair off in style Saturday. The Mutt Show at 10 a.m. has 11 categories, including most tail wags in a minute; red, white and blue theme costumes; longest tail; best trick; coolest dog; most unusual dog; the most barks in a minute; and best fetcher.

Ribbons, dog bones and trophies will be awarded.

And the entry requirement?

Bean smiles.

andquot;Any dog will do,andquot; she said.

The Milk Drinking Contest is slated for noon, while one of the week's highlights, the Market Livestock Sale, begins at 1:30 p.m.

At 3 p.m. the Kids and Kritters Fair Photo Contest will be held.

The Demolition Derby, which begins at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Rodeo Arena, was so successful last year that additional bleachers have been brought in, Bean said. Admission is $7 general admission, $5 for seniors and $2 for children 6 through 12.

Drivers will be competing for big-time prize money: $1,000 for the winner, $500 for the runner-up.

Chances at cow chip bingo the game that combines bovine fertilizer with geography will be available at $5 a chance, with the winner receiving $100.

A Jumpasarus an inflatable dinosaur-themed jumping area for children will be available throughout the run of the fair for 50 cents for five minutes.

And free hot dogs will be grilled beginning Wednesday at 6 p.m. until they're gone.

The Baker County Fair is funded through the Oregon Lottery grant dollars, sponsorships, donations, admission fees, grounds rentals and, on occasion, county grants.

Every year the fair pays out more than $10,000 in premiums, awards, ribbons and special prizes.