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Community Comment

Tue., Sept. 28, 2010, 6:07 a.m.

Demise of the South East Spokane County fair?

Good morning, Netizens...

This last weekend, I sat once more at a picnic table beneath the trees in South Spokane County's cultural diadem, one of the few ties to our agricultural past that endures even today. It was time, once again, for the annual South East Spokane County Fair at Rockford, an event that my wife and I have attended sporadically for several years now.

According to fair manager Jack Bergstrom, the fair has been in existence for 66 years, no mean feat when you consider how isolated it is from the mainstream of Spokane County and the grudging respect it receives from the Spokane News Media. Two TV stations and the Spokesman-Review each gave little coverage to this year's fair, and even then, KREM-2's coverage overlooked some of the true beauty of the fair: the morning parade which wove through downtown Rockford, the vendors, the multi-class livestock in the barns, the kids and various political luminaries who made an appearance. The news media never has been particularly anxious to waste their resources on the South East Spokane County Fair and that seems such a shame, given the amount of hyperbole they expend each year on the Spokane Interstate Fair.

However, one thing seemed to resonate with KREM-2 TV. The fair and carnival, which is held each year in Rockford's City Park, may be a thing of the past, as the State of Washington has given the fair $3,300 this year, which is less money than most people pay for a new car, having given them notice that unless state funding improves, 2011 will be the fair's last year of state assistance. and without funding, the fair may simply fade away.

If KREM-2 had arrived on Saturday morning, however, they could have gotten the rest of the story, because the folks who have kept the three day fair running are not taking the news of the possible demise sitting on their hands. One of the highlights of Saturday's schedule, which went off on-time at 1:00 PM, was when Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich kissed a cow for the fair. It seems there was an impromptu competition between Sheriff Ozzie and the Mayor of Rockford, Micki Harnois, to see who could raise the most money for the fair, and Ozzie won the dubious honors. I was standing there, when Ozzie kissed a black yearling cow fresh from the barn on the nose, and thus donated over $1,000 to the fair's operating budget.

A few in the crowd speculated wildly about what Ozzie would do if the cow decided to stick out its tongue during the kiss, but alas, that didn't happen, and despite the poor cow being anxious to get back to the relative serenity of the livestock barn, the audience applauded when Sheriff Ozzie kissed the cow. The things elected officials will do in an election year to help a good cause!

In closing, once the carnival rides closed for this year, the throngs of people standing patiently in line gone from the food booths and the incredible homespun music still echoing across the park, there is a durable sense of tranquility that will linger on, so long as everyone remembers this stately fair and the farms it celebrates each year.


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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.