I hope everybody enjoys reading the Farm-City Pro Rodeo special section in Saturday's Hermiston Herald. Herald staff, myself included, worked hard on the section this year, which features a variety of stories about our esteemed rodeo, which runs in conjunction with one of my favorite yearly events: the fair.

The fair is one of my favorite times of the year, and as I noted last August, the Umatilla County Fair ranks high among all I’ve visited. County fairs are longtime traditions that bring people in the community together at one central location for one week to see and share the fruits of area residents’ labor, whether raising animals or growing prized flowers and vegetables. Mostly, I go for the animals. I’m partial to the bunnies, which are fuzzy and cute, and the goats because they always seem to have a lot of personality.

I’ll be spending Wednesday and Thursday mornings at the Hermiston Herald and East Oregonian fair booth, after which I’ll spend sometime perusing the different booths and the animal barns to check out the fine livestock area youth have raised this past year. If I’m lucky, I’ll time it right and get there when the children are exercising their animals or taking them out of their pens or cages, and, if I’m lucky I’ll get to pet a bunny or two. Even though speaking and answering questions about their animals is part of their training, it is always interesting to hear what the youth have to say. While I have never exactly been a “city girl,” I have never lived in close proximity to livestock; well, at least, nobody in my immediate or extended family has ever ranched in recent memory, so my knowledge in that area is somewhat limited. I enjoy hearing about what it takes to raise rabbits and goats, but this year I’m going to branch out and expand my knowledge about what it takes to raise the rather imposing pigs shown at the fair.

I’m also looking forward to attending my first rodeo. I wasn’t able to attend last year, but I won tickets through an office drawing, and I am excited to see the action first-hand Thursday night. As far as apparel goes, I have the boots and the jeans covered, but I think I’ll forgo the button-down shirt and cowboy hat this year.

One of the best parts of my job is learning new things, and I’m a little more educated about rodeos after conducting a few interviews for Farm-City Pro Rodeo.

I can say, Hermiston is fortunate to have such an event that is not only well known on the national rodeo circuit but is also enjoyed by so many people, including the contestants. In my interview with calf roper Brad Goodrich for the Farm-City Pro Rodeo tab, he told me the FCPR is one of a few rodeos close to his heart. Not only is it in his back yard, but the organizers were once on the circuit themselves and know the challenges of being a professional rodeo cowboy and work hard to make sure the event is top notch.

Regardless, I’m sure it will be another educational and entertaining experience for me, and I hope to see everyone out at the fair and rodeo experiencing it with me. And if you get the chance, stop by the fair booth Wednesday and Thursday mornings and say hi. I look forward to meeting more of you.

— Jessica Keller is the editor of the Hermiston Herald. She can be reached at jkeller@hermistonherald.com

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