As we chat over the awe of the local fireworks and try to forget the pungent odor of the black powder, we feel a certain excitement taking over for the lights of the Ferris wheel and the sweet smell of cotton candy. July is a month of sights, smells and sounds and is completed with the upcoming County Fair.
County fairs were originally created to draw communities together and exhibit the local agricultural products and livestock. Many don’t know, but this year marks the 100th anniversary of a very special Curry County crop—Easter lilies. Historic documents show the lily was first introduced into Curry County 100 years by means of a soldier who brought them here via his suitcase.
In 1919 a World War I soldier, Louis Houghton, brought a suitcase full of hybrid lily bulbs to Curry County. Up until that point Japan was the world’s largest producer of the flower. However, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, the Japanese source of bulbs was abruptly cut off. As a result, the value of the bulbs sky-rocketed and at the time the Easter Lily was referred to as ‘White Gold’.
Today, over 95% of all bulbs grown for the potted Easter lilly market are produced by a mere ten farms from Smith River up to Brookings.
This year we celebrate other agricultural anniversaries—it is 100 years ago that D.M. Moore, aka ‘Bullhide Moore’, built a cheese factory in Pistol River and one in Ophir. Bullhide became quite an icon in the county, and he is memorialized by a fountain in front of the Courthouse. This past week the bushes were cut back at the Courthouse to reveal the sturdy fountain which boasts the history of Bullhide—although the fountain no longer works, it remains a strong tribute to the legendary businessman and councilor.
Although not one to be exhibited at a county fair, the year marks one last anniversary—that of the first noted sighting of the Allen Hummingbird along the southern coast.
So if you’re feeling sentimental, or just in the mood for a good corn dog, this year’s fair is sure to be something special. And, if you’re not in the mood for all the lights, smells and sounds, find a peaceful spot along our peaceful shoreline and watch for hummingbirds.