Take the free bus to the fair

LA GRANDE — Northeast Oregon Public Transit’s free bus will be giving rides to and from the fair July 31-Aug. 3. The bus will run from 3 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and from noon to 10:30 p.m. Saturday. The buses will travel a loop between the Union County Fairgrounds and the Short Stop (corner of Gekeler Lane and 12th Street), along Second Street, Adams Avenue, 12th Street, C Avenue and Fourth Street. Along the way, roughly every 30-40 minutes, a northbound and a southbound bus will stop at the Riveria Activity Center (corner of Y Avenue and Second Street), Max Square (corner of Adams Avenue and Fourth Street) and the Short Stop. The buses may also be flagged down at any time on the route, according to the map provided in the Union County Fair Premium Book.

Observer staff

The Union County Fair began in 1872, the year Congress voted to allow the U.S. Postal Service to sell one cent postcards.

Today the value of pennies has plummeted and postcards are becoming obsolete in the digital age — but the popularity of the Union County Fair is re-surging. Attendance has increased each of the past two summers, and this year’s fair has the potential to continue this upward trend.

“We are very excited,” said Union County Fair Manager Margaret Spence.

One reason is this year’s entertainment lineup, which includes nationally known blues artist Curtis Salgado, who will perform at 8 p.m. Friday.

“We are very fortunate to have him,” Spence said.

Salgado, according to www.waterfrontbluesfest.com, is credited with being the inspiration behind John Belushi’s creation of the well-known Blues Brothers characters in the 1970s. The Blues Brothers debut album “Briefcase Full of Blues” is dedicated to Salgado. He later formed the band Curtis Salgado & The Stilettos in 1991, which opened for the Steve Miller Band in the summer of 1992. Salgado appeared with Miller on the NBC TV show Late Night with Conan O’Brien in 1997.

Noteworthy awards Salgado has won include three Blues Music Awards in 2013 from the Blues Foundation. One of the three was the prestigious B.B. King Entertainer of the Year award, according to www.curtissalgado.com.

Amy Horn, president of the Union County Fair’s board of directors and an Observer employee, said the board is honored to have a musician of
Salgado’s stature perform at the fair.

“He has a following,” Horn added. “I am confident we will have a good night (Friday).”

Also entertaining at this year’s fair will be:

• Glitter Funk, a
La Grande band, at noon Wednesday

• Olivia Harms, a singer from the Portland area, at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Wednesday

• Catherine Loyer and Strawberry Roan, a country classic rock group from the Portland area, at 8 p.m. Thursday

• Wasteland Kings, a La Grande band, at noon Friday

• Steven K and the Bounty Hunters, a Union County band, at noon Saturday

• I4NI, a La Grande classic rock band, at 8 p.m. Saturday

A new feature at this year’s fair will be horseback rides provided by Victory Acres Riding Academy of La Grande. The rides will be led by Victory Acres staff Thursday and Friday for $5.

Another new feature will be free admission on Saturday for everyone age 17 and younger.

Those on the other end age spectrum will be saluted Thursday during Seniors Day, an annual fair tradition. Anyone age 62 and older will be served a free breakfast from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and admitted free to the fair that day.

Daily admission will be $6 for adults and $4 for age 17 and younger. Daily admission for veterans with ID will be $5. Fair passes are $18 for adults and $12 for age 17 and younger. Children age 6 will be admitted free throughout the fair.

Parking is free, but those who wish to avoid the hassle can take advantage of free bus rides that will be provided to and from the fair each day by Northeast Oregon Public Transit. For information on the rides, call Northeast Oregon Public Transit at 541-963-2877.

The fair will run from
8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Carnival rides will be provided from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. all four days. Carnival wristbands are $25 each and provide rides throughout any given day. Wristbands purchased before Wednesday are $20 and are available at D&B Supply in Island City and at the fair office at the Union County Fairgrounds.

The annual fair parade on Friday will begin at 6 p.m. this year. The parade begins on the 1500 block of Adams Avenue at Globe Furniture and will proceed west along Adams to Fourth Street. Lineup for the parade will begin at 4:30 p.m.

Major sponsors of the fair include Barreto Manufacturing, Les Schwab Tires, Hines Meat Co., Outdoors RV, Community Bank, Northwest Furniture and Mattress, Banner Bank, Northwood Manufacturing, D&B Supply, La Grande Paint & Glass, Elkhorn Media Group, Oregon Trail Electric Co-op, 92.9 Hawk Classic Rock, 104.7 KCMB, 103.1 News Talk KVBL and 102.3 The River.

Spence said everyone who has worked all year preparing for the fair looks forward to seeing their efforts bear fruit.

“We are very excited. We are amped up,” she said.

She said things have gone smoothly because of the dedication of the fair’s board and staff.

“They are awesome to work with,” Spence said.

The fair’s manager said the event tends to race by.

“Everybody is happy to be there. It goes by quickly,” Spence said.