How Local is the Lane County Fair?

EUGENE, Ore. — It’s called the Lane County Fair, but how many exhibits, vendors and entertainers are actually from Lane County?

Over the past couple of years, the fair tried to put more of an emphasis on local. Now at least 50 percent of the exhibits, vendors and entertainers there hail from western Oregon.

Dottie Chase has been running Fry Joe’s and Elephant Ears for more than half a century. Her roots are right here in Eugene, and her deep fried pastries are a hit.

Seventeen of the 32 food vendors at the Lane County Fair–that’s 53 percent–are local.

“I am all for that. I have always been for local,” Chase said.

“Awesome. I just think that a local county fair why not bring in the county’s best,” said fair visitor Sharon Smith.

It’s also a way to dip into a new clientele.

“You are going to try it and say where are you located, where is your business, where can I come find you you know downtown,” said Kristina Gallegos of Fry Joe’s.

Some vendors might sell a brand, like Ben and Jerry’s or Subway, but they are local franchises.

“I think it is a good idea to keep the money in the local community and the community benefits from it,” said Bill Wilson, owner of Larsen’s Fine Candies.

Off the football field, one former Duck running back and pro ball player is now bringing the heat, BBQ style.

“It has more credence with people doing business with local vendors even, like we bake our bread every day in our house with our pastry guy so we use local bread. Our vendors we use for our meat products, we try to keep that as local as possible,” said Dino Philyaw, Philyaw Catering owner.

This local fair is looking local, with hopes of attracting even more next year from right here in our own backyard.

“Doing business with the people you see every day–your neighbor, your friend, you know your cousin–it’s all about a circle,” Philyaw said.

We walked through the commercial vendors and noticed not as many were local. There were a lot of national products, but we did find the Oregon authors. Some we talked to say they remember a time when almost everyone here was local, and they would like to see it move that way.

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