It seems many of the best things in life come but once a year, and the time-honored tradition of a county fair is no exception.

The 2009 Curry County Fair is a perfect example of that adage and tradition. The fairgrounds in Gold Beach was alight with the best the county has to offer and full to the brim with excitement, exuberance and the sort of collective enjoyment only a regional fair can offer.

The 2009 fair started with all cylinders firing and brought in record attendance for opening day Thursday, according to Ron Crook, the Event Manager for the Curry County Fair.

Crook said attendance was a 30-percent increase from last year and probably was helped by a first for the fair andndash; a major event, Bull and Barrels, on day one. Positive response by attendees to the rides, food choices and educational displays couldn't have hurt, either.

"We just had good comments all over the place," Crook said. "Just constant positive comment.

"And the weather was just gorgeous."

Crook said he's anticipating a good turnout over the next two days, as well, and for good reason.

"There are lots of things to see and participate in for the weekend," he said.

The rides drew kids in like a barn dance collects gussied-up folks.

Kate Pettinger, 19, of Brookings, brought her little brothers Thursday for some thrill-ride amusement.

"They've been on just about every single ride," she said.

One of her brothers, Jeremy, said he was having a really good time and that his favorite ride was the big ferris wheel.

"It's really fun," he said.

Thursday's activities included a presentation by Wildlife Images (WI) called "Raptors andndash; Owls and Hawks."

WI education specialist Cyndee Maunu brought several birds on stage, including a Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk, that, in the wild, kept running into buildings and being returned to WI because he's nearly blind in one eye.

The 4-H animals were also on display, with the proud owners scrubbing and combing them to get ready for showmanship and conformation. Thursday at 6 p.m. the goats took the stage looking sharp and smelling as good as goats can.

The 7 p.m. hour was all about mutton busting. Kids younger than seven took turns trying to stay on a sheep's back as it careened around the livestock pavilion.

Daniel Strom of Brookings riding "The Terminator" hung on the longest.

"It was like riding a horse but faster and harder to hold onto," he said. "It's exciting, fun and the sheep smelled like dirt."

The marquee event Thursday was the Bulls and Barrels competition at 8 p.m.

Lacey Farmer of Myrtle Point finished first in the barrel racing event andndash; where riders and their horses round three barrels as fast as equine legs can go andndash; atop 8-year-old gelding "Buttercup."

"I tried something new and it worked out," Farmer said. That something was letting the horse just do its job, and apart from a little slip on the third barrel, Buttercup put in an excellent days work.

In the first go-round of bullriding, Cody Brixey scored an evening-best 86 for first place and took home the kitty of $840.

The second go-round boasted the biggest purse, and that $1,260 was awarded to Montana's native son Newley Sizertsen for his first-place 83.

Riding "Disco Dog," Sizertsen did his eight-second duty with style.

"(Disco Dog) felt awesome," Sizertsen said. "I thought he had me bucked off a couple times, but it worked out."