Cool start for Jackson County Fair

The pigs, the tilt-a-whirl, musicians and fair food galore have congregated in Central Point, and that means one thing. The Jackson County Fair opened in full force Tuesday, and visitors got a break from the heat that plagued recent fairs.

"We're up about 8 percent from last year," Fair Director Chris Borovansky said. "It was a good day. Rain didn't come until after the show was over, and we've got no dust on the fairgrounds now. We're looking for a good run."

Most fairgoers come every year, and many come two, three or four times each year.

"Last year the weather was a lot hotter, and we only came two times," said Rikki Cuozzo of Medford, who came to watch his granddaughter Haley Fylstra perform with her friction hip hop dance troupe. She will be back again on Friday and Saturday to provide more entertainment.

The kids in the swine barn have already been at the fair since Saturday, and most are at the fair all day every day each year. They can teach visitors all about pigs, or the card games they play to pass the time.

Christian Robinson, who showed his pig with the Eagle Point Mavericks, proudly declared that he got a full bottle of water to stand on the card house he built. He's also proud of his pigs, but he said he tries not to get too attached to them.

"It's definitely sad," Robinson's friend Daniel Reimer of Shady Cove said of the upcoming swine auction. "A whole bunch of pigs die to feed people. But I gain experience on taking care of animals."

For those not inclined to snack on pork just after a visit to the swine barn, the fair offers an array of other tasty treats.

Tiffani Cox and her daughter Finley of Medford enjoyed a gooey plate of nachos just after petting a new baby calf, and a quick visit to the hand sanitizing station.

"How was that baby cow? Pretty soft, huh?" Cox asked her daughter.

Finley only nodded as she munched on another chip.

Cox's son Spencer busily devoured a bright orange chicken teriyaki skewer, anticipating his upcoming ride on the Super Shot Drop Tower, a new ride this year. He said he will be the first of his friends to brave the ride.

In all, the fair offers 25 rides this year, including three new ones.

Kim Bolen's children were excited to take everything in, rides and all. They will likely only make one trip to the fair, she said. Bolen, from Central Point, snapped pictures of Grace, 6, and Lance, 4, as they rode around and around the Ferris wheel with their grandparents.

After Lance's ride, his first question was "Can I get a milkshake?"

"How was it?" Bolen asked about the Ferris wheel.

"Good, he said, distracted. "I want a milkshake."

He ran over to Grace as she climbed down the exit stairs to see if she wanted a drink too. But she was already looking forward to the next attraction.

"How was it?" Bolen repeated her question to Grace.

"Can I go rock climbing now?" she responded.

For a break from the whirling and spinning rides, carnival workers encouraged people to try their luck at the many games.

Steven Miller runs the Lucky Rubber Ducky game for 12 hours a day, where he gives away prizes for people who fish a rubber duck out of his pond.

"This is an everybody's game," he said. And every player is indeed a winner, but chances are they will walk away with a tiny toy turtle and not a giant stuffed animal. Out of about 200 ducks, he said there are six for an extra-large prize, six for large, 10 medium and two "choice." The rest will win the turtle.

Back in the Padgham Pavilion, away from the lights of the carnival games and rides, Elizabeth Acos of Ashland demonstrated yet another piece of fair tradition &

weaving &

with the Rogue Valley Handweavers.

Acos won third prize for her beginning weaving entry. This is the first year she has been involved in the fair, and she said she liked the different perspective it provided, especially watching kids give her craft a try.

"It holds interest for them, and it's not a video game on a video screen. It's not high-tech, just basic hands-on," she said. She will be back several more times this week, and if everything goes as planned, so will have lots of company.

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