Jacki and his four cage mates sat in their makeshift home Thursday at the Jackson County Fair with nothing but a green sun screen covering the top of their large, black cage.
The five black bears, the stars of the Great Bear Show, had traveled all the way from Jefferson, Texas, where the 96-degree weather and 55-percent humidity were almost unbearable.
Noon — Mutton Bustin'
1 p.m. — The Great Bear Show
3 p.m. — Mutton Bustin'
4 p.m. — The Incredible Hypnotist
4 p.m. — The Great Bear Show
6 p.m. — The Great Bear Show
7 p.m. — Maddog Bullriding's Challenge of the Champions
7 p.m. — Mutton Bustin'
7:20 p.m. — The Incredible Hypnotist
Walk on the Wild Side "Big Cats"
Live Music (Showcase Stage)
6 p.m. — Sequoia (bluegrass, folk, pop)
8:20 p.m. — Jason Johnston and Michael Boren Band (country)
At The Expo, Jacki sprawled in the middle of his cage, his upper body spilling over a red stool. Lagging from heat exhaustion, the bear's long tongue fell out of his mouth and rested on the grass.
Medford's weather clearly isn't any more hospitable for Jacki than Jefferson's — even with the sun screen, an ice-cold swimming pool and a heavy-duty industrial fan.
Chuck Glaser, meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in Medford, said fair-goers might not be any more comfortable than Jacki this week, with triple digits forecast to be the norm.
"July and August are the hottest months, so they are more apt to be in the triple digits," he said.
Forecasts call for 99 degrees on Friday, 100 degrees Saturday and 103 degrees Sunday, he said.
Scott Downing, captain of Jackson County Fire District No. 3, said everybody should plan to hydrate before attempting to battle the heat that's assaulting the valley during this year's fair.
"Come prepared and wear sunscreen and a hat," he said. "Hydrate with plenty of fluids like water, not beer."
District 3 has quite the cooling station set up for fair attendees this year. For starters, there is a beige canopy with misters spraying from all directions. The district also provides free cups of ice-cold water.
For those suffering dehydration, District 3 has IV therapies available in an air-conditioned trailer.
Perhaps trying to avoid a visit to the trailer, fairgoers could be seen employing numerous cooling strategies Thursday, including water bottles, sunscreen, hats, swimming pools, misters and snow cones.
Marsha Watkins, owner of the Rainbow Hawaiian Shaved Ice stand, said she made more than $1,000 Wednesday and planned to make more than that Thursday afternoon.
"Ten degrees makes a big difference in temperature," she said. "People can't get enough snow cones."
Flavored ice wasn't the only hot commodity Thursday.
Tracy Sherrier, 43, and her friends, who all have horses in the fair, sat under a canopy with their feet in an ice-cold kiddie pool.
"I haven't stopped drinking water and haven't really taken my feet out of this pool in a while," she said.
McKenna Christmas, 15, had her feet soaking in the water, too, while her pepper-colored horse, Rainy, lay in his shaded stall trying to stay cool.
"He stays in the stall most of the day, and I'll take him out twice a day to rinse him down with cold water," she said. "He also has misters in his stall."
The carnies who run the games could probably use some of those misters.
Tyler Bell, 19, gets a break every two hours from his Frogger game, where kids try to fish out frogs to win a prize. While he's running the game, however, his only form of relief is a lukewarm water bottle.
"I try to drink a lot of water and Gatorade," he said. "On my breaks, I put a cold rag around my neck, but I'm not allowed to have it on during my shift."
Patrick Easton, 18, who works the Neon Roll 'Em Down game, said he always keeps two water bottles handy.
"Once these run out, I go over and fill them up at Fire District 3's water-filling station around the corner," he said. "Also, if I stand in the back here, the breeze hits you, and it's great."
For animals and people alike, water seems to be the one necessity at this year's fair — whether it's in a bottle, a mister or a plastic swimming pool.
And if you get extra hot, there's always the blow-up Water Maze, with multiple water guns and an endless supply of cold water with which to wage water-gun battles with drenched kids.
Thomas Freidel, 42, sat outside the Water Maze as his 6-year-old daughter, Hailey, ran around squirting kids with her neon-orange gun.
"This is the first year they did this, and it's so awesome," he said. "It's always a good idea when it's 90 degrees outside."
Reach Mail Tribune intern Amanda Barker at 541-776-4368 or firstname.lastname@example.org.