Oregon State Fair, Part 2

Dear Liza,

Childhood in motion

After we had visited all the animal barns at the Oregon State Fair, we headed to the midway. The rides and junk food were delightful, but we were careful how we combined them.

Years ago, my equilibrium decided I shouldn’t ride the fast rides anymore, but I sure enjoy watching. Most of them are rides that have been around since I could, though. One vintage swing ride even bills itself as “A Michael Jackson Ride, from Neverland Ranch.” The paint job and simple construction are elegant and really take me back.

The one ride we got tickets for was the “Fair Lift”, benches on a high cable, like the sky ride at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. “See the fair from a chair!” Says the sign. “In the air, if you dare!” We added. It was not only a great view of the whole fairgrounds, low enough to smell the BBQ ribs and hear the music, but a chance to sit down for a full 30 minutes!

Grandpa Nelson, following the rules

Down the fair from the midway was the one room Criterion School, which was in use until 1925. It was moved here from Maupin by the National Guard in 1976 as an example of a standard schoolhouse and is currently maintained and staffed by retired educators from all over the state.

Criterion School

I enjoyed talking with the ladies and seeing the old report cards and desks, but what really got my attention were the old books! I have been trying to find curriculum materials from 1903 to use in my story, and here they were! I took lots of pictures and notes…I will be cruising old book sites soon.

Tomorrow, quilts and things!


Grandma Judy


Oregon State Fair, Part 1

Dear Liza,

Very calm sheep

Portland is only about 45 minutes north of Salem, which is the capital city of Oregon. Yesterday we all drove down to see the State Fair. Since the weather has finally gotten a little cooler, it was a pleasant day.

First, of course, was the animals. The FFA and other livestock barns are the heart and soul of any state fair. We enjoyed seeing the sheep and goats get all spruced up, then dressed in little robes to keep them clean while they waited their turn to be shown.

Very clean goats

Next door was the poultry, where Auntie Bridgett spent some time talking to the ducks and chickens. They actually seemed to be listening for a while, but were confused by her accent. She speaks California poultry, I guess.

The barns are not just big, they are historic. The poultry barn was build in 1921, the year my Momma was born, and the horse barn in 1919. Included in the poultry were pheasants, which I always think of as wild birds, but these seemed comfortable being in a pen and being admired by hundreds of strangers.

Not just a building, an historic poultry building

In the historic wooden horse arena we saw the “Showmanship” judging. This involved a few dozen horses standing, stopping, walking, and backing up. I admired the construction of the arena as well, all wooden trusses and bracing, and wondered how it would have sounded in 1919, when it was jam-packed with local horsemen¬† showing off their prize animals. I confess, horse shows make me miss my dad, your great grandpa Lowell. At every fair I ever went to, he greeted every horse like an old friend.

1919 horse arena

Walking out of the cool barn we found the beginnings of the dog judging. One handsome fellow was being the practice dog, to make sure the timing mechanisms were working. He was having so much fun, he kept running through his paces backward and forward, having a ball!

Extremely happy dog

By then, it was time to eat, so we went in search of healthy food! Just kidding. I had a baked potato with everything, Auntie Bridgett had a pulled pork sandwich, and Grandpa Nelson had a three course meal: Karmelkorn, a milk shake, and giant pretzel.

More tomorrow!


Grandma Judy



The Enchanted Forest

Dear Liza,

Thursday, Grandpa Nelson took the day off and drove Cousins Jasper, Kestrel and me 45 minutes south to The Enchanted Forest, near Salem. This lovely old theme park was built in 1971 by Roger Tofte on a low budget and with no corporate sponsors. This was his dream, and it took seven years to build. It is still being run by his grandchildren!

Heading in

Grandpa Nelson and I visited The Enchanted Forest when your mommy Katie was little, and a lot of what we loved is still here. The cute castle entrance, friendly staff, and shady forest help a lot when visiting on a hot day with small children. The small scale, and quiet, walk- through experience is engaging and non-threatening, even with witches around.

A walk-through, slide-out witch

We visited Storybook Lane, where Humpty Dumpty sits on his wall, Little Red Riding Hood meets the Wolf, and we walked (with difficulty) through the crooked man’s crooked house.

There are new things to see, as well. There is Tofteville, an gold mining town, named after the original builder. It has a shooting gallery and Fort Fearless, which has tunnels to walk and crawl through. It was a tight fit, but I made it!

In the medieval village section, we saw a Dancing Waters Show while having pizza for lunch, and a music group performed rousing Irish music. Cousin Jasper got to shoot dragons and other bad guys in the Challenge of Mondor, and got enough points to be a Knight!

Jasper Victorious!

While we were walking around the Enchanted Forest, we were having so much fun that we hadn’t noticed that we were always going UP the hill. But looking over the trees, we realized we had climbed a hundred feet or more! Up near the top we found our last attractions for the day, the RIDES.

Knowing that some theme parks make their money with big, scary rides, I was worried. But these were “Kiddie Rides”, exactly the right size and scariness for Jasper and Kestrel, and the “height restrictions” meant you couldn’t be taller than 54 inches to ride! There were bumper boats, a Ferris wheel, Frog Hopper dropping ride, a carousel, and a tiny train. The kids rode and laughed and chatted with the operators.

Chatting with Lynette at the Ferris Wheel

There were bigger rides around the other side of the park, but we didn’t go there. It was getting hotter and we were all wearing out. It was time to head home. The air conditioned car and cool drinks of water felt very nice on the way home.

I sure slept well that night!


Grandma Judy