July 28, 2003 11:00 pm

Christine Courtright is to the Union County Fair what the Harley Tucker family has been to Chief Joseph Days and Northwest Rodeo — a driving force for more than a half-century. And although Christine's role has changed in relation to the fair, no one can downplay what she and her late husband, Burr, have meant to the fair's stability and success.

For more than 19 years Christine served as fair manager, but her involvement goes back many more years. She first became involved with the fair as a 4-Her. She traces her adult involvement to before 1950. She began serving as the Fair Maids' chaperone in 1957. For about 20 years she and Burr built the Fair Maids' float for the parade. "Burr did the construction and I did the trim,'' Christine told The Observer.

That involvement led her to become fair manager. Burr, who died June 30, stayed involved, too, as one of the fair's most dependable volunteers. In 2001 Burr was given special recognition by the Oregon Fairs Association for his support of the local fair.

As fair manager, Christine said her goal was "trying to do something different every year and make it a little better every year.'' During her tenure, the fair grew from three to four days. Over the years of her involvement, fair attendance grew from about 15,000 to more than 45,000. She hoped to get a new building constructed, but for a variety of reasons the pieces didn't fall together to accomplish the feat. She jokes that other fairs deem 25-year-old buildings in need of replacement, but that she'd be happy to have any building that new.

And those flowers that enhance the fairgrounds' appearance? Yep, that's Christine's handiwork too. Her love for the fair is represented in those beautiful flower beds.

Union County citizens owe Christine a debt of gratitude for all she has done on behalf of our fair. Thanks, Christine, for your years of efforts.