What could the State Fair, the Linn County Pioneer Picnic, the Happy Canyon Pageant & Wild West Show, the Scandinavian Festival, and the Fourth of July Pet Parade possibly have in common? Well, other than people and fun, of course. They are all designated as Oregon Heritage Traditions! To date, there are fourteen such illustrious events so designated. This just goes to show that history can be fun and entertaining, too.
Katie advised that to be nominated, the event has to have run continuously for at least 50 years, be associated with people, places, events and activities that characterize the heritage of the state, demonstrates an appeal to the broad public, has a distinguished public profile and reputation, provides participatory activities, and adds to the livability and identity of the state. The Oregon Heritage Commission bestows the designation after reviewing applications submitted from events across the state.
The first Oregon county fair was hosted by Yamhill County in 1854, with the first official State Fair being held in Oregon City/Gladstone area in 1861--it moved to its current Marion County site for its second year. It began as a way for area farmers to showcase the crops grown in Oregon, as well as to display innovations and share knowledge for the burgeoning agricultural industry. Over the years, the State Fair has become the showcase for new inventions and technology: the phonograph and telephone in 1877, the first automobile display in 1904, the "flying machine" in 1910, the 90-foot Titan Missile that launched a satellite into orbit in 1961, the Gemini spacecraft and moon rocks in 1970, and the first high-definition TV in 1998.