From corn dogs to land use: An Oregon State Fair to remember

On average, more than 300,000 people visit the Oregon State Fair in Salem every year, over the course of about two weeks, to learn more about what’s happening across the state, compete in friendly (but still serious) events, and enjoy the food, rides, and live music. The 2023 fair was no different – except for one addition thanks to Mr. Jim Gilbert, a former board member of 1000 Friends of Oregon and longtime land use advocate. 

This year, Jim brought together organizations that defend and strengthen Oregon’s land use planning system: from 1000 Friends of Oregon to Thrive Hood River to Friends of Marion County to a newly founded grassroots group in Washington County, Farmland First.

Each day, visitors walked and rolled into Columbia Hall to enjoy cooking demonstrations, pie-eating contests, and quilting competitions. Along the way, they made a stop to learn more about Oregon’s land use system. Most ended up sharing their own stories: where they moved from or traveled that reminded them of Oregon’s special qualities, how they had gotten involved in a land use process, ways they had experienced the effects of land use decisions and wish they had gotten involved sooner, and – for some –  a concern about farms and ranches being converted into strip malls and subdivisions. 

Three people face the camera and smile, standing in front of a large banner that says "Oregon: The sprawl free sate."

We promoted three opportunities to strengthen our land use system: 

  1. How we can directly address our housing crisis head-on and still protect our farms, forests, and watersheds from sprawling development. 
  2. How farmers and ranchers can prepare to apply for the newly created $10 million Natural Climate Solutions Fund.
  3. How Oregonians can report a land use issue with the 1000 Friends of Oregon team and get involved in other ways, like signing up for webinars and events to learn more about effective land use advocacy from beginning to end. 

To Mr. Jim Gilbert, we are grateful for your leadership to make this happen! To our fellow land use organizations who focus on local areas in Oregon, we’re so glad to have spent time together. And to the hundreds of new friends who signed up, welcome! We’re so glad to have you join the cause. 

Now, let’s take a peek at some of the highlights:

Alpacas at the state fair
Hot dog in front of stand at the state fair
Black-and-white pig standing and looking at camera
People on a ride high up in the air