The 2021 Oregon State Fair is now open, but bring your mask


For some people, fairs are just a place to spend a few hours.

For others, like me, they are a joyous adventure of new things to see, try and, of course, taste.

After being canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, the Oregon State Fair is back – despite record rates of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Marion State and County. It opened on Friday and will run until September 6.

So, for a few food-filled hours, we can forget what’s going on in the world and taste strange fried foods, unsuccessfully climb rock walls, throw darts at balloons in an attempt to win over stuffed chickens wearing glasses. sun and watch happy pigs sleeping in pens.

Masks mandatory inside and outside

Statesman Journal regional reporter Bill Poehler orders a Fried Twinkie at the Oregon State Fair Friday August 27, 2021 in Salem, Oregon.

Governor Kate Brown’s new outdoor mask tenure handed out this week coincided with Opening Day.

Masks are now mandatory for anyone aged 5 and over indoors and outdoors in situations involving multiple households that are unable to socially distance themselves.

When the fair opened on Friday morning, about half of the people were wearing them. It increased as the day went on.

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There is a vaccination clinic held daily at the fair – and if you get one you get a ticket to attend the fair on another day. But there were few people and many more lined up at the booth to buy tickets for the carnival games.

Eager workers waited patiently for people to come and shoot basketballs, ride the roller coasters, and visit the haunted house.

I tried unsuccessfully to climb the rock face with a price tag of $ 100 at the top. I didn’t even get halfway up, but the descent of the harness gave a nice view of the fair.

Glad to be back on stage

People ride the chairlift and view the Oregon State Fair from above on Friday August 27, 2021 in Salem, Oregon.

The Oregon State Fair was one of hundreds across the country canceled in 2020.

Over the past year, many artists have had to find something other than traveling from city to city across the United States to make people laugh by throwing axes or running chainsaws.

“It’s good to be working again for sure,” said Gretchen Rothermel of the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show. “Otherwise, you’re just sitting down and grappling.” “

The scientific magic show, dogs jumping in swimming pools and crazy animal races drew dozens of enthusiastic children and adults.

And artists may have been the only ones who didn’t run out of fair trade food.

Paul Bunyan’s Lyle LeCaptain was in a corndog eating contest at a fair two weeks ago and lost despite eating 8 1/2. He swears he’ll never eat corndog again.

“I was sick for a week afterwards,” said LeCaptain, who is regularly offered food before performances. “It was two weeks ago, we’re fine now. I recommend people get a funnel cake at least once a year.

Heaven on a stick, a plate and a cone

Statesman Journal regional reporter Bill Poehler climbs the rock face at the Oregon State Fair on Friday August 27, 2021 in Salem, Oregon.

I was the first person to eat a fried Twinkie at the Oregon State Fair this year.

It was indescribable, both crunchy and gooey. And good warning, powdered sugar goes everywhere.

Then it was time to try a ridiculously large ice cream cone followed by a plate full of bacon and fried fries topped with cheese. And a stranger shared his jojos.

“You only eat it once a year,” Turner resident Jane Petillo said. “I don’t want to wait two more years. It’s expensive, but it’s fair food.

Other food curiosities this year include Fried Kool-Aid and Fried Coffee.

The “No parking” signs are back

Kamari Adkins, 7, plays a game at the Oregon State Fair on Friday August 27, 2021 in Salem, Oregon.

The fairgrounds have been very busy last week with people bringing animals to show, setting up rides and setting up food stalls.

Since I moved to a nearby neighborhood in 2014, it has been years since I went to the fair, or only went on Tuesdays, admission was 25 cents.

Many of us took it for granted.

Over the past week, the mooing of cows in the distance and light pollution from the carnival rides have been a reminder of how much of a joy the fair can be.

The fair takes place every day from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. the rest of the week. Tickets cost $ 8 for ages 12 and up and $ 6 for those under 12 at the door, though there are discounted days. Seniors enter for $ 1.

Will be going back next week – there is too much stuff for one visit.

After all, I swore to see former West Salem volleyball coach Katie Herber who will be there to sell drinks. I still need to drive the bumper cars. And I hope the Pat Benetar concert on Tuesday could come out of my head “Hit Me with Your Best Shot”.

Oregon State Fair

Site: 2330 17th St. NE, Salem.

Car park: $ 5 cash or card.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday. The carnival rides open every day at 11 a.m.

Tickets: $ 1 for seniors, $ 5 in advance or $ 8 at the door for ages 12 and over; $ 5 in advance or $ 6 at the door for children 6 to 11 years old; free for children 5 and under. Tickets can be purchased in advance online at

Carnival races: A wristband, which covers unlimited rides, three games, and an average drink, costs $ 55. Or you can buy 125 game or merry-go-round tickets for $ 50. The games range from 1 to 12 tickets and the rides from 10 to 12 tickets.

Bill Poehler covers Marion County for the Statesman Journal. Contact him at [email protected] or

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