GOLD BEACH - The 2002 Curry County Fair may be down on quantity this year, but there is still plenty to see and do, and the quality is as high as ever.

Whatever happened to ...?

A quick stroll through the grounds may leave fairgoers with the vague feeling that something is missing.

Overall, the number of exhibits appears to have dropped during the past couple of years, and this year was no exception.

There was plenty of elbow room in most exhibit areas throughout the fair, but what was on display was excellent, from flowers to goats to baked goods. The commercial booths also had plenty of room to stretch out.

It wasn't all doom and gloom, however. The culinary exhibits were actually up this year, as were the 4-H Club static exhibits.

The food court offers plenty of international variety with Polynesian stir-fry, exotic fruit-smoothies and lemonades, pizza, Mexican food, Italian sausage sandwiches, and good-old-American burgers and corn dogs.

Missing though, were entire sections of buildings. The Floral Building is missing its covered entrance and display area, but actually looks better without it.

Still, the exhibits had no trouble fitting in what is left. The quality of the flowers and arrangements can't be beat, however, and some of the giant vegetables, such as huge garlic cloves, are amazing.

Sam Appleton of Brookings grew a zucchini inside a barbecue sauce bottle. It conformed to the contours of its container before growing out of each end.

The Arena Building and Horse Barn are notable for what is missing: horses. All the 4-H Club equestrian events were held the previous week, leaving a lot of sadly empty stalls for the fair.

As for the crumbling Livestock Pavilion, the section with the missing roof is completely blocked off, with the judging area moved to where animals used to be kept.

That still left plenty of room for livestock, however, which seemed to be mostly goats. There were few sheep, pigs or cattle.

Fair Board member David Smith said, however, that the goat exhibit that was really down.

He said the Curry County Fair has always had one of the best goat shows in the state.

This year, he said, many exhibitors went instead to a state goat show held on the same weekend.

The average fairgoer would never notice. There are more than enough goats to go around.

The rock-climbing wall and trampoline-bungee attraction, popular during the last couple of years, are also gone.

The andquot;Hammerandquot; was missing from the Carnival-by-the-Sea, but all the other rides were there, looking clean and bright.

The Curry County Fair remains one of the only fairs in the nation that can boast an ocean view from the Ferris Wheel. The andquot;Zipperandquot; practically dips into the surf.

The entertainment was also down this year, at least on opening day. Missing were some of the stage performers of years past, and all of the talent show activity has been moved to Saturday afternoon.

OMSI Shines Bright

The fair manager spent a large part of the entertainment budget on an exhibit and shows from the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), and the investment appeared to have paid off handsomely.

Brad Fairbanks and Dannon Farrald supervise the hands-on exhibit in the Ocean View Room upstairs in Docia Sweet Hall.

Kids of all ages, as they say, should enjoy the many puzzles and andquot;brain teasersandquot; on display.

Fairbanks said both children and adults have fun with them, but the children can solve them.

The exhibit also features critters, from ordinary white rats to exotic Madagascar hissing cockroaches.

The cockroaches are not pleasant, but fortunately, they are the favorite food of Batman, the Australian bearded dragon.

Although the information sign identifies the strange lizard as Robin, Fairbanks said the one on display here is actually Batman, named for his expandable frill.

He said Batman is more neurotic than Robin. There are also some comparatively sane leopard geckos and snakes.

Fairbanks said the exhibit is constantly on the road from mid-July through mid-September. It travels to eight fairs in the Northwest.

Fairbanks also put on two stage shows during the day, and will do so every day of the fair.

His shows may be science, but they make learning fun. He changes the same liquid from red to orange to purple, not by magic, but by adding chemicals which indicate whether the liquid is an acid or base.

The show also features fun with dry ice, at 110 degrees below zero, and liquid nitrogen, at 320 degrees below zero.

A humorous shtick involves the making of andquot;elephant's toothpaste,andquot; where an unwitting volunteer drops a bit of chemical into a seemingly empty flask, resulting in an explosion of yellow foam.

Entertainment for Everyone

Other entertainment on opening day featured the swing tunes of the Oregon Coast Lab Band, and karaoke from Quendar Gypsy Productions.

The Hermiston Watermelon Seed-Spitting Contest was dominated by the Wilson family from North Bend.

Jim topped all challengers with a andquot;pahtooeeandquot; of more than 26 feet. Wife Ann took the women's class at 23 feet. Six-year-old Jesse, sporting purple hair for the fair, took the children's division with a distance of more than eight feet.

Non-Wilson Michael Colby of Ophir won the youth category with a spit of more than 16 feet.

Jim Wilson said competitive seed-spitters routinely top 60 feet in Iowa, but they don't have to contend with ocean winds.

Opening Day is always a little shy on entertainment, which means sparse attendance during most of the day. The fair pulls out all the stops for the weekend.

Saturday-Parade Day and Rodeo Night

The Grand Fair Parade will begin at 11 a.m. at the port and proceed south on U.S. Highway 101 to the fair.

Weaving, carding and spinning will be demonstrated from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Docia Sweet Hall.

The stage will feature the Southern Oregon Scottish Bagpipe Band at 12:30 p.m., the AppleBarner band at 1 p.m., the Flying Feet Dancers at 2 p.m., the OMSI show at 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., and the $1,000 Talent Show at 3:30 p.m.

A miniature stallion will perform in the Arena Building at 1 p.m.

The Junior Livestock Auction will be held in the Arena Building at 3 p.m.

The professional rodeo will begin at 7 p.m., preceded by a big-screen slide show at 6:15 p.m. and mutton bustin' at 6:30 p.m.

The intermission will feature a VIP introduction and a barnyard scramble for children.

Sunday-Family Day

The fair will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Weaving, carding and spinning will be demonstrated from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Renegade Line Dancers will perform on the stage at noon. The OMSI show will be at 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.

The Demolition Derby will be held in the Arena Building at 1 p.m., and will also feature the $500 Brookings Harbor Ford Frisbee Toss.

The 4-H Club awards program will be held at 1 p.m. on the outdoor stage.

Children's games will be held on the green near the stage at 2:30 p.m., including sack races, a tug-o-war, and watermelon eating.

Admission to the fair will be $6 for adults, $2 for children 6-12, and free for children under six. Families get in closing day for $12.

Admission includes Rodeo general seating. Reserved seating is available for $4.

For more information, call the Event Center on the Beach at (541) 247-4541.