Pilot story and photos

by Bill Lundquist

GOLD BEACH - More than 300 people showed their support for the Curry County Fair, fairgrounds and Event Center on the Beach Saturday night, raising $11,049 at the first Fair Fund Fling.

The event was designed to raise money to get the event center through its current financial crisis, but organizers and participants had so much fun they vowed to make it an annual event.

With a guest list that was a virtual andquot;who's whoandquot; of people in Curry County, the andquot;flingandquot; transcended its original purpose to become a virtual county party.

andquot;It just shows the support that's out there for the fair,andquot; said Curry County Fair Board Chair Jackie Crook.

Her idea was to enlist one host each for 63 tables. The host would pay $20 for the privilege of arranging a meal, decorating the table, and selling tickets at $20 each to seven other people.

While attendance fell about 20 tables short of the original goal, hosts were found for 42 tables, giving a theoretical crowd of 336.

Donation envelopes were also available at each table, and people contributed dozens of goods and services for a silent auction.

The final tally was $5,840 from ticket sales, $2,075 from donations, $2,894 from the silent auction, and $240 from catering, exceeding the Fair Board's original goal of raising between $8,000 and $10,000.

Special guests included representatives from the Smith River Rancheria tribal council, which recently donated $5,000 to the event center.

Most candidates for nearly any office in Curry County attended, along with plenty of elected officials who were not running for anything this year.

The list included all the Curry County Commissioners and their opponents in this election.

Rep. Wayne Krieger attended, as did Brookings Mayor Bob Hagbom and County Treasurer Isabella Brock.

Crook gave the lion's share of the credit for the event to county employee Rosann Headlee and treasurer candidate Linda James. They had only six weeks to organize everything.

Table themes ran the gamut from indoor picnic to crystal and candelabras. Folks at some tables ate take-out pizza, chicken or Chinese food, while others enjoyed fine dining catered by the Friends of the Fair.

Crook's own table featured a Halloween theme. Guests came in costume and dined on brains and a werewolf's foot casserole while drinking from skull goblets.

Nearby, former fair manager Ron Crook was dressed in shorts, a Hawaiian shirt and possibly the silliest straw hat in existence, serving a luau to his guests. Fair Manager Tom Amsden also went with the luau theme at his table.

Everyone got to enjoy the sheet cakes baked by the Friends of the Fair.

Everyone also seemed to enjoy the three hours of entertainment provided.

The Euchre Creek String Band of Richard Purdy, Elaine Dorn and Laurie Dean played through dinner. Purdy also supplied the sound equipment for the event.

Then it was time for the girls of the Pacific High School Step Dancers to show off their andquot;Riverdanceandquot; style of dancing. As in traditional Irish dance, the arms and upper body remain still while the feet and legs put on quite a show.

Winners of the Hathaway Jones Tall Tales Festival recreated their andquot;whoppersandquot; for the audience.

Fittingly, there were plenty of fish stories. Joe Saxton and Kip Marstall related how they'd dragged an enormous fish out of Crater Lake with their bicycles. The minnow they held up, however, had obviously been on the Atkins Diet.

Anne Tlaker told how she'd surfed a tsunami on an ocean kayak and survived an encounter with a whale of a shark.

Tlaker later joined fellow Ellensburg Theater Company actor Lea Greenberg in the reading of a scene from a new play.

Members of the audience were tapped by Headlee and Amsden to provide some of the entertainment themselves.

Headlee organized a successfully humiliating and hilarious andquot;potato between the kneesandquot; relay race.

Her attempt at having wives make andquot;mummiesandquot; out of their husbands proved less successful when the toilet paper mummy wrappings fell apart. Also, the wives first turned their wrapping skills on Headlee herself.

The event center is not completely out of financial difficulty yet, but more fundraisers are coming up.

Saturday, the event center will feature a Halloween Party and spaghetti feed for all ages at 6-10 p.m., complete with games, photo shoot, costume contest and prizes.

The event center will also have a Haunted House both Saturday and Sunday, 6-9 p.m. in the Floral Building.

A horse show to benefit the event center will be held Nov. 20.

Crook said Curry County's 150th anniversary in 2005 will be celebrated with events all year long at the event center.

One of those will be another Fair Fund Fling, which might just as well be renamed the Fair Fun Fling.