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'Thrills, Squeals and Ferris Wheels'

What started in 1859 as a showcase for quilts, pies, jams, livestock and new inventions has since evolved into a summertime fun fest, replete with thrilling rides, a rodeo, popular headlining acts, dozens of vendors, animal exhibitions and delicious, albeit fatty, foods.Reach education reporter Teresa Thomas at 541-776-4497 or tthomas@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/teresathomas_mt.

The Jackson County Fair runs Wednesday through Sunday, July 22-26, at the Jackson County Fairgrounds & Expo Park, 1 Peninger Road, Central Point. This year’s theme is “Thrills, Squeals and Ferris Wheels.”

“We’re aiming for everyone in the county to come and have fun here and for it to be a gathering place for all,” said Helen Funk, interim director of the fairgrounds and The Expo.

Last year, 81,000 people visited the Jackson County Fair, despite temperatures of more than 100 degrees. And with free parking this year, courtesy of Butler Automotive, even more are expected to attend.

“We’re doing our best to keep it safe and fun and free, or at least inexpensive, so more families are able to come,” Funk said.

Admission is $10 for adults, $6 for seniors age 62 to 74, and free for children age 12 and younger, “super seniors” age 75 and older and everyone on Sunday.

This year’s fair highlights include the Oregon Challenge of Champions, a professional bull-riding event held opening night in the Isola Arena, and platinum-selling Canadian rock band Theory of a Deadman, Southern rock band 38 Special and country up-and-comer Brett Eldredge performing Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, respectively, in the Lithia Motors Amphitheater.

Theory of a Deadman will play songs about “how screwed up we are” from its fifth full-length album, “Savages,” and perhaps a few breakup songs from earlier, chart-topping albums.

Florida’s 38 Central will draw from a repertoire spanning three decades, including hits such as “Hold on Loosely," “Rockin’ Into the Night,” “Fantasy Girl” and “If I’d Been the One.”

And a younger audience will appreciate Eldredge’s hit single “Don’t Ya” and other songs from the singer-songwriter’s debut album, "Bring You Back," released in 2013 by Nashville's Atlantic Records.

The rodeo event, as well as lawn seating at all three concerts, is free with the price of admission.

More than 25 regional bands will be playing throughout the week on the Main Stage, and there will be a beer garden, an interactive butterfly exhibit, a petting zoo with a variety of exotic animals, 4-H club and Future Farmers of America exhibits and competitions, and Captain Christopher’s fun and educational Pirate’s Parrot Show.

Kids can attempt a climbing wall, get their faces painted by Annie the Clown, brave the roller coaster, Ferris wheel or other rides available, or beg their parents for curly fries, funnel cakes, cotton candy, snow cones or more healthful options available from vendors along “Food Row.”

For more information about the 2015 Jackson County Fair and a complete schedule of events, see www.attheexpo.com, call 541-774-8270 or download the fair’s iPhone application from the Apple App store.

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The Jackson County Fair brings a wide range of ways to have fun.
Beau, left, and Buddy shared a moment at the fair.