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Something for everyone

The Event Center at the Beach is buzzing with activity as volunteers and vendors, cooks and cowgirls, entertainers and exhibitors all get ready for the 101st edition of the Curry County Fair.

It’s a slice of Americana that offers something for everyone. Robotics, dog show, baby races, a magician, condors, a battle of the bands, motorsports, a drum corps, BMX riding, livestock auctions, and lots of traditional fair food.

And it’s a small-town tradition that struggles to survive.

It’s no secret that the Curry fair has been on a shoestring budget for years. There’s been no money from the county for years; the gate receipts for entrance fees only cover half the costs of the fair. Longtime Fair Manager Ron Crook was meeting with the fair board treasurer Friday to make sure that cash flow would be safe when $30,000 is paid to entertainers this week.

“Without all the volunteers and sponsorships, we’d have a real problem,” says Crook. But he and his board have been able to scrape together enough in reserves to do some much-needed building repairs on the fairgrounds.

What the fair needs most this week is everyone’s support. Submit your best efforts on entry day early this week, take advantage of the discounted carnival passes on sale before the fair, peruse the special events, and plan to have fun at the fair.

New hotel: Facet on a gem

The Smith River Rancheria deserves congratulations for another success this week with the grand opening of Howonquet Lodge, the latest addition to the Lucky 7 Casino complex along Highway 101 in Smith River.  

The 71-room hotel joins the casino, full-service restaurant and conference hall at the main site, along with the fuel mart/convenience store, and community hall nearby. The entire complex is a far cry from what started as a few dozen slot machines in a double-wide trailer in 1996.

Combined with the location almost within the Redwood National and State Park and only steps from the ocean, the tribe can accurately boast of “a vacation paradise on America’s Wild Rivers Coast.”

All of that just speaks to the facilities for the general public. The United Indian Health Service, tribal housing, day care center, a wastewater system, a transportation plan, scholarships, and an RV park in the works — they are all tangible additions to what the tribal council calls “our vision of building a healthy, self-reliant community.”

While the tribal enrollment is only 1,440 people, the economic impact extends much further. Total annual employment is now about 200 people at the rancheria, with a total annual payroll of more than $4 million.

The new hotel is just an additional facet on a gem that is already shining in our community. The rancheria leadership and the tribal membership can be proud of what they have accomplished.

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