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5 things to do at the Jackson County Fair

The Jackson County Fair promises to appeal to all ages with a mix of new and traditional activities this year.

The fair kicks off Wednesday, July 22, and runs through Sunday, July 26, at The Expo, 1 Peninger Road, Central Point. Friday, July 17, is the last day to buy discounted fair admission tickets and wristbands that allow for unlimited carnival rides.

Fair admission advance tickets cost $9 for ages 13 through 61 ($10 at the gate) and $5 for ages 62 through 74 ($6 at the gate) and can be purchased at Sherm's Thunderbird Market, Food 4 Less, Blackbird, Bi-Mart and Grange Co-op stores. Kids ages 12 and younger and adults 75 and older get in free. Admission is free for everyone Sunday.

All-day carnival ride wristbands cost $25 in advance ($30 at the fair) at Sherm's Thunderbird and Food 4 Less.

Activities at the fair range from rides to an interactive butterfly exhibit to Rogue Valley-made food and drinks to dozens of musical acts. Here are five things you'll want to do at the fair.

1. Carnival Rides

No fair is complete without carnival rides. Davis Amusement Cascadia will be back with everything from kiddie rides to white-knuckle thrill rides for adrenaline junkies.

Founded in 1947 in Oregon, the family-run company also will host midway games.

2. Live Music

Fair admission includes free lawn seating at the concerts running throughout the fair. Reserved seats cost extra, with tickets available at www.attheexpo.com.

Theory of a Deadman — a band mixing alternative rock, country and other styles — will perform at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 23. The rock band 38 Special, which shot to fame in the '80s, will play its mix of rock and pop hits at 8 p.m. Friday, July 24, while country music star Brett Eldredge will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 25.

In addition to the featured bands, more than a dozen regional singers and bands will take to the stage at various times Wednesday through Saturday, ranging from young musicians and singers just beginning their careers to veteran ensembles such as The Rogue Suspects.

"We have a diverse group of artists coming. Just about every demographic is represented. We have everyone from performers in the high school scene to The Rogue Suspects and other area favorites who have been around for years," says Jackson County Fairground & Expo Director Helen Funk.

On Sunday, Concierto Hispano will appeal to the Rogue Valley's Latin American-heritage audience with three bands plus the Ballet Folklorico folk dancing group. Admission costs $20, free for kids 10 and younger. 

3. Animals and Agriculture

Recalling the agricultural roots of county fairs, animals will be featured in a variety of events, starting with the Challenge of the Champions bull-riding competition at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 22. The events are free with fair admission.

Kids can visit a variety of farm animals at a petting zoo and see reptiles, amphibians and other creatures at an exotic animals exhibit.

Watch butterflies fly, feed and light on people in the Butterfly Adventure exhibit with more than 1,000 butterflies, plus eggs, caterpillars, cocoons and lush plants.

During several shows daily, watch parrots soar around the fairgrounds, land on a pirate ship display and talk during the Pirate's Parrot Show.

Future Farmers of America and 4-H participants will exhibit the farm animals they have raised themselves, enter competitions and take part in livestock auctions.

4. Food and Drinks

Eat traditional fair food such as elephant ears and curly fries, try a full range of cuisine from Asian to barbecue and wash it down with microbrew beer, wine and other drinks.

New this year, the Rogue Valley Grown exhibit will educate fair-goers about local agriculture from seed to table. Learn about supporting local farmers, making healthy food choices and how produce gets from the farm to the grocery store.

5. Hobbies and Crafts

See the talents of friends, relatives and neighbors on display in a host of categories, including canning, baking, sewing, knitting, woodworking, jewelry-making, ceramics, photography, gardening and technology skills such as computer-generated art.

Rock band Theory of a Deadman plays Thursday, July 23, in the Lithia Amphitheater at the fair.
Carole Evans' home-canned goods won prizes at the 2014 Jackson County Fair.