Adventures with the Drayers – Oregon State Fair

Event date: 4 September 2022

When we first visited Portland in 2018, while we were still deciding if we would move here, one of the things I found most interesting and exciting was visiting the Oregon State Fair. I have only ever seen this kind of event on TV and movies – it feels like peak Americana.

Here’s the video we took in 2018 from the Fairlift; it’s such a cool way to get an idea of the lay of the land.

This year, my priorities were: try and eat a whole corn dog myself. That was it. Everything else was just gravy (there wasn’t any gravy, that I saw, though). After sunburn and heat stroke at the PDX Hot Sauce festival, I made sure to get a hat (even if the only one I could find that fit was a naff denim bucket hat) and wear sunscreen.

Oregon is having a bit of an Endless Summer, so the weather was gorgeous once again for the drive down to Salem – we arrived just before the Fair opened, met up with our friend Amanda, and got in the queue. We decided to repeat the experience from last year and start with the Fairlift

My main task was to spot the corn dog stall from 2018, but I am also really good at remembering maps and getting my bearings from landmarks (I think this comes from a lot of tramping (= hiking) as a kid). The chair lift is a really great way to get a “real” sense of the fair map and make your decisions while you can plot your whole course.

https://oregonstatefair.org/map/
https://oregonstatefair.org/map/

Pretty amazing to see it all from above first – can’t help but love an aerial view, especially before the crowds arrive and make it even harder to find your way around!

It was too early to eat, so we decided to check out the livestock at Amanda’s enthusiastic suggestion. We didn’t look at that whole area last visit, so it was great to have a local guide to point out all the things we should check out!

After saying hello to many (MANY) cute llamas, goats, and other furry friends, it was coffee-o’clock.

While we did not go to heaven, we did find a nice, shady picnic table to enjoy our beverages and have a bit of a rest.

Apparently, corndogs were officially invented in Oregon at Pronto Pup. I was absolutely stoked to finally track down Fat Schlags and have a go at eating a whole corndog on my own. Spoiler alert: unfortunately, I could not – I find it really hard to eat fatty foods these days, so even as a treat, corndogs are officially out of my reach. But I did get to see Smoky Bear!

Once we had achieved (or at least, attempted to achieve) corndog, we were free to drift around and explore anything and anywhere we wanted.

First, we had a look at the Artisan Village, which was smaller than the 2018 version.

There was nothing there that we really wanted, and it was very hot, so we moved on to the indoor displays, where there was air-conditioning and somewhere to sit.

The first hall held the plants and veges, which were looking a bit sad by now, at the end of the Fair season. It was cool to see all the ribbons and awards.

Next, we walked past a few more stalls, then into another big hall, with collectables, competitive table-setting and tree-decorating, and QUILTS.

The range of quilt designs, and the different skills they displayed, was really interesting and impressive. We got to vote on them and leave a comment for the quiltmaker, too, which was a nice touch. I can’t imagine how much work it takes to create some of these pieces, but it must feel really cool when strangers leave you kind words.

At the other end of the hall, there were wood-turners with all their tools, and George got a tiny spinning top.

The next hall was like a large indoor trade market, with stalls of jewellery, sweets, olive oil, and furniture, amongst other things.

After looking around there, we went back outside and tried a Dole whip, which is sort of like gelato and sort of like frozen juice. Absolutely perfect on such a baking hot day.

George got some lovely olives as his “refreshing snack”. Then we walked back through the Midway, planning to get some tickets and play some games, but while there were no wait times to actually play, the lines for the tickets were massive and completely motionless, so we decided not to worry about it.