EUGENE, Ore. — This year marks 153 years of the Lane County Fair, and it marks the same anniversary of fair tradition for one Lane County family.
These barns hold a lot of history, and just about every bit of it involves the Wheeler family and its century-and-a-half long tradition here at the fair.
“I’ve been in livestock more than thirty years, and I’ll tell ya when it’s in your blood, it’s in your blood,” said Valkyrie Farms fair patron Christine Phillips.
The Wheelers’ veins have been pumping this way for more than a century. Darlene Cannon is in the fourth of six generations of Wheelers to run the agricultural part of the fair.
“When my dad retired, I took over his job. I was a clerk for years,” Darlene said.
So for the past five years she has been the coordinator for the sheep and goat barn, assisted by her daughter and granddaughter, and this year, her brother grant is a judge.
“You walk into a place like this and of course all the memories, about my grandfather, when I was a boy showing sheep, and all the good times we had,” said Grant Wheeler.
Grant and Darlene plan to add many more memories to the list.
“I’d like to keep it going because it’s kind of a thread that goes through your, through the generations, so you have that identity,” Darlene said.
Her identity and that of the Wheeler family are more than well known. They’re an integral part of this fair, how it’s developed and its future.
“I’ll tell ya, I don’t know how they’ll ever replace her. She’s a great resource, and she and her family have done a great deal of service to this community and this county in coordinating the fair efforts, and I hope she sticks around as long as she can,” Christine Phillips said.
Yet even when Darlene’s tenure times out, she says this family tradition never will.
“I have some great granddaughters who would like to get involved so we’ll see,” Darlene said.
Darlene’s granddaughter McKenzie is so far the youngest family member officially participating, and she tells Darlene this is her favorite time of year.