Oregon State Fair 4-H canceled for horse safety

Oregon State Fair begins Friday

The horse barns at the Oregon State Fair in Salem, Aug. 20, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
The horse barns at the Oregon State Fair in Salem, Aug. 20, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN 6) — With vendors setting up and animals on their way in, the Oregon State Fairgrounds are full of activity. But the horse barns are empty and the horse arena is silent.

Dozens of kids scheduled to compete in the 4-H and Future Farmers of America events have been sent home since the arena was ruled unsafe.

“Very disappointing. Very disappointing,” said Pamela Rose with Oregon State 4-H.

The problem is the ground conditions, and the fear is a horse could trip or slip in certain events.

“For some they were coming just for that day,” Rose said. “To know they came the day before and got through their showmanship pieces and were ready to show the next day and couldn’t, yeah it’s both a time commitment, it’s an emotional commitment as a family and a financial commitment they make.”

M.G. Devereux, the director of the Oregon State Parks, said he understands the disappointment of the participants.

“I think that’s one of the things that we’ll go back and look at, in terms of where the timing was,” he told KOIN 6 News.

Devereux thought they’d have the surface ready for the more demanding events and thought, “up until Monday,” that approach would work.

It didn’t.

This isn’t the first time there has been trouble with the aging arena.

Both 4-H leaders and fair leaders said the call was made for safety, their top priority.

Beginning next year, the state fair is not under state control, so some decisions about sticking thousands of dollars into the arena will have to be made by the new public corporation, the State Fair Council.

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