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Back in action: After a year’s absence, the Othello Fair returns

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | September 22, 2021 1:05 AM

OTHELLO — The Othello Fairgrounds was busy – kids showing animals, the Othello PRCA Rodeo under the lights Friday and Saturday, the carnival rides, traditional fair foods.

After a year’s absence, the fair returned last week.

And LaRae Kent, for one, was glad to see it.

“It’s been a long time since we had a fair,” she said.

It rained – literally – on the fair parade Saturday morning, but parade participants, spectators and fairgoers ignored the storm.

“We have waited two years to have a fair. We’re not going to let a little rain stop us,” wrote Tammy Everett, of the Othello Fair board, on the fair’s social media page.

Naturally, the rain was heaviest just as the Othello Police Department and Adams County Sheriff’s Office vehicles led the parade down Main Street. But people brought their umbrellas and rain jackets, and even a few winter hats popped up. One little girl scorned the elements and wore her shorts and T-shirt.

The Othello High School band, rodeo queens, the crew from the Columbia Basin Health Association and the Othello Youth Football organization walked and rode down the parade route, playing music, waving to the crowd and scattering candy to the kids.

An estimate on attendance wasn’t available at press time, but the fair drew plenty of participants. The animal barns were full, so was the exhibit barn, and people were patronizing their favorite fair food booths, many menus part of the fair tradition.

Moses Lake High School advisor Tony Kern said the Othello Fair is unique.

“This kind of has its own feel,” Kern said Thursday. “More personable. Things are a little more relaxed. I think the kids enjoy it a lot.”

Enjoying the fair sometimes depends on the circumstances. Mason Palmer had some bad luck in the market swine competition – different judges look for different characteristics, and the Othello Fair judge didn’t like the characteristics of Palmer’s pig.

“I guess it depends on the judge,” Palmer said.

Kipton Sams had different problems with his pig. He moved on to the championship round in fitting and showing competition Thursday, and while waiting he took care to keep his pig clean. At least until the pig laid down in its pen, getting wood shavings all over its legs and belly.

“Not again,” Sams sighed. “That’s the third time he’s done that.”

Sams said there’s no real technique to success in the show ring, except preparation.

“You just feed them, get them to the weight. Teach them to walk,” he said.

And if a competitor works with his or her animal, “you’ve got a way better chance.”

Madilynn Pruneda said the animals, in her case her lambs, can tell when she gets frustrated, and will react accordingly. They also know when she’s in charge.

“Stay calm and quiet and know what you’re doing,” she said.

The livestock sale ring was packed Saturday morning. The sale gave 4-H and FFA participants a chance to earn something for their summer’s labor.

Keliann Stephens earned $225 for her grand champion FFA market rabbit. Stephens, with the Moses Lake High School FFA, said she’s raised rabbits for two years. But she comes from a rabbit-raising family. Her mom and uncle both showed rabbits when they were kids, and she’s been around rabbits all her life, she said.

Raising rabbits requires attention to detail. Most fair animals must meet a minimum weight limit, but rabbits also have a maximum weight limit. And market rabbits are very sensitive creatures.

“The sound of a balloon popping can scare them almost to death,” Stevens said.

Saturday’s rain may have affected attendance at a new event, the car exhibition. Even with the rain threatening, about 10 to 15 car owners brought their muscle cars, classic cars, antique cars and motorcycles.

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Casey McCarthy/Columbia Basin Herald

A fair guest pets one of the emus in the livestock building at the Othello Fair on Saturday.

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Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald

Competitors keep their eyes on the judge during lamb fitting and showing competition at the Othello Fair Thursday.

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Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald

The Othello High School marching band ignored the rain and performed the music during the Othello Fair parade Saturday.