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Nearly 150,000 attended county fair

Although the 2003 Jackson County Fair didn't break any attendance records, director Chris Borovansky is still calling the annual event a success.

It was just a real good year, Borovansky said on Tuesday. It was safe, it was very clean, it was fun.

According to Borovansky, approximately 149,700 visitors attended this year's event, titled Getaway to the 2003 Jackson County Fair.

More than 153,000 visitors attended the 2002 county fair, and 155,000 people came to the fair in 2001.

— Attendance peaked in 2000 when a record-breaking 159,314 visitors turned out for the summer event.

Borovansky speculates the lagging economy and blistering heat may have kept numbers down this year.

The weather on Friday, Saturday and Sunday was pretty hot, he added.

Fairgoers who did brave the heat most likely noticed several sheriff's deputies patrolling the fairgrounds, said Sheriff Mike Winters.

I wanted people to have a good, safe environment for the entire family, said Winters, who added that between 12 and 18 deputies were assigned to patrol the fairgrounds at all times. I guess that hasn't been done in the past, at least not to the degree that we did it.

Winters said the department worked in partnership with private security guards and Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) officials to cut back on typical fairground complaints ' mainly fights and drunken behavior.

More than 20 citations were issued to minors in possession of a controlled substance, and a handful of arrests were made for theft and drug possession, Winters added.

New rides and a strong entertainment line-up ' ranging from Sawyer Brown to Kansas to Dwight Yoakam ' were among the biggest crowd-pleasers at the 2003 fair, noted Borovansky.

In addition, the air-conditioned Technology Pavilion pulled in thousands of visitors, he added.

Local youngsters involved with 4-H Clubs and Future Farmers of America raised more than &

36;850,000 at the Junior Livestock Auction. The annual event is the largest of its kind west of the Mississippi.

Smokey's Playland ' a popular fixture for nearly 20 years aimed at teaching youngsters about fire safety ' was also a big attraction at this year's event, Borovansky said.

Although Smokey's Playland will be dismantled to make room for the Lithia Motors Amphitheater, fair and fire department officials hope the attraction can be rebuilt for fairgoers in 2004.

It attracts an incredibly large crowd every year, said Mark Moran, Deputy Fire Marshal with Fire District 3. We just have hopes that there will be a future for it.

Reach reporter Jill Briskey at 776-4485, or e-mail