The summer Coos County fair is always a lot of fun! This year’s fair featured five days packed with entertainment, food, and a new exhibit barn! The fair had a wealth of activities for young and old including exhibitions, competitions, classic car show, Country music, a parade, square dancers, roller derby, rodeo, rids, food and more! [1,2]
One highlight was the almost finished barn (fantastic!) packed full of livestock exhibits (horses, swine, sheep, and goats) with poultry and rabbits nearby. Visitors could browse well-cared for varieties of animals, participate in nearby animal auctions, sales, and fund raisers. Exhibitors seemed more able to maneuver around the space to take care of the animals during the heat of the afternoon greatly tempered by the metal roof shade. The barn construction will wrap up on August 5th with the Water Suppression system according to Debbie James, Fair Office Manager. 
Last year the 4H auction earned more than $500,000 which contributes to the local economy along with other monies earned during the Fair. Researchers have identified five ways that the economy is supported including bringing attention to natural resource activities, providing products and services that help retain money locally longer, attracting local residents and visitors to an area, and connecting a very diverse audience. The economic multiplier is $10:1 for State Funding. 
Not all of the benefits are easily measured. What is the value of building a community, teaching leadership and business skills, and helping to strengthen community networks? The Fair and the Fair community contribute more than what people might guess. What is the value of winning your first 'Best of Show" ribbon? A memory for a lifetime.
The Coos County Fair Alliance is always looking for ways to attract more participants and they saw success this year. This year’s fair agenda included a very wide array of events and activities (parade, demonstrations music, contests, food, and more), and several new twists (such as car show, music festival, increased seating around the food areas, and more discounts). 
Fair attendance was up every day, Ms. Debbie James, Fair Office Manager said. “Overall we did really, really well.” 
Next year, there could be a new Food Pavillion. The Coos County Fair Alliance is busy raising funds to complete phase 1 of the project construction. The new Pavilion will feature six food stations, covered seating, a patio and courtyard, a grape arbor, a tongue and groove wood ceiling, and evening lighting all protected under a roof featuring four gables and a cupola. The Pavilion will be available for year-round use and for special events and dance venues. Phase 2 could include a solar photovoltaic system. 
Oregon has 36 county fairs and one State Fair with more than 1.5 million Oregonians attending a County fair in 2017! This more than 100-year-old tradition offers something for everyone right in your own backyard. Did you miss it? Too bad—it was A LOT of fun! 
To find out when county fairs are scheduled go to: oregonfairs.org/information_about_fairs_in_Oregon 
Mark your calendars for Douglas County Fair, August 7-11 in Roseburg, and Oregon State Fair for August 24- September 3 in Salem. Curry and Lane Fairs just finished in late July.
1 Coos County Fair Features New Event This Year (https://theworldlink.com/news/local/coos-county-fair-features-new-events-this-year/article_5fa73679-9287-5938-804c-dcf7cbbb7992.html)
2 Coos County Fair & Rodeo (www.cooscountyfair.com)
3 Phone conversation with Debbie James, Fair Office Manager on 7/29/2019
4 Coos County Fair Contributes to local and student funds (https://kcby.com/news/local/coos-county-fair-contributes-to-local-and-student-funds)
5 Special Report, 1076 May 2007 Oregon County Fairs: An Economic Impact Analysis, OSU Extension report (https://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/downloads/bg257g14n)
6 Coos County Fair Alliance (https://cooscountyfairalliance.org/food-pavilion)
7 About Us, .Oregon Fairs Association (https://oregonfairs.org/about.php)
A June 2019 review on Trip Advisor gave a poignant description of the Coos Bay Boardwalk that started off with “Nothing great to see.” I only wonder how many thousands of people will see that review and perhaps decide not to visit or bring their business here. Negative feedback on social media is almost inevitable, but many could be a catalyst for positive changes.
There have been many meetings and work on creating a Community Enhancement Plan that includes a Waterfront Development Partnership. Such a partnership might be just the forum for discussing and prioritizing improvements and focusing efforts on long-term benefits.
What should visitors see? Some might say they want a vibrant bay front, others may be more elaborate and want a waterfront that supports public access and business, provide recreational opportunities (such as walking, eating, and congregating), and others may be more focused on protecting the overall quality of life and environmental aspects. All of these goals are possible over time.
All of these goals are possible over time.
“Kind of run down but a beautiful view.”
The comment continues describing the waterfront as ‘kind of run down’ which could probably be applied to many rural disadvantaged communities that have lost economic vitality. The southern Oregon coast is blessed with several waterfronts many of which face some of the same issues as the larger ports such as Bellingham, Austin, Philadelphia, and San Diego: What purposes do we want our waterfront to serve? And how do we achieve those goals? Who decides what projects to do first?
This waterfront partnership was formed through an Intergovernmental Agreement for areas falling within the boundaries of the Bay Area Enterprise Zone and the Coos Bay Estuary Management Plan. A lot of water has come and gone since the plan was first developed in early 2014. There have been around 30 public meetings where there are some agreements and some disagreements. The Waterfront Development Partnership would focus on five areas:
1. Establish a Wetland Mitigation Bank;
2. Establish programs to address Brownfield/Vacant Derelict Sites;
3. Provide Grants to Support Public Agency Projects;
4. Establish a Program to Support Private and/or Non-Profit Investment; and
5. Establish a Program to Support Land Use Planning and Permit Assistance
A great meal, a break in the sun, what a great afternoon?
“There are some historical displays...but when we walked up... there were some homeless people laying...”
The plan takes monies that were pledged by Jordan Cove in lieu of taxes that are being deferred under an Enterprise zone allowance. An Enterprise zone is an area that exempts businesses from local property taxes for a specific time period. There are 73 Enterprise zones in Oregon, with 56 of those residing in rural areas, and 10 ports all meeting specific economic hardship criteria.
Coos Bay, North Bend, Charleston, and Coos County benefit from a Community Enhancement Plan and the development of a waterfront partnership. The detail on how to make this work is still elusive for the work group and discussions continue.
“I do love looking at the boats.”
A compelling waterfront agreement could start the renewal process and provide the funding for improving public access and use, making adjacent underutilized parcels more attractive, and perhaps improving how the waterfronts and our communities are perceived. The challenge is to be creative in finding a plan that all of the partners can agree with. That goal will take a lot more negotiations and discussions.
As for the quotes from the Trip Advisor, we are stuck with them for now. We can change the situation. It’s just going to take a bit more work to get there.
The South Coast Development Council focuses on activities that involve business retention/ recruitment, and expansion. Outdoor recreation activities, such as biking, can help diversify and support businesses all along the coast. Let's get out and ride!