It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds and Event Center as the Winter Fair returns for its sophomore campaign — though the event itself will look rather different from last year’s iteration.
While the inaugural Winter Fair was a drive-thru event made necessary because of statewide Covid-19 restrictions, this year’s edition will be a full, walk-about experience.
“Last year, we went with a drive-thru rendition for Covid protocols, and this year, we’re excited to make it a walk-around event,” Fairgrounds Marketing and Event Coordinator Tyler Nizer said. “We’ve made an experience that can still be safe in the current Covid environment, while bring something that families can really enjoy.”
Though the Winter Fair debuted last year during the pandemic, Lauren Humphreys, member of the Clackamas County Fair Board and one of the lead organizers of the event, said it had actually been in the works long before.
“I think this was just an awesome thing that we can offer,” Humphreys said. “We’ve been working on this project for years actually. And last year, with the community needing more drive-thru options, we were able to make it happen. It probably wouldn’t have happened last year otherwise.”
The layout will be different this year as well, with many additions and new features aimed at better facilitating a laid-back pedestrian experience.
Entry will be by the Red Gate, which will kick off with a 12-foot-tall ornament and one of the highlights of last year’s Winter Fair: a 160-foot-long tunnel of cascading, multi-colored twinkles.
Beyond that will be a huge light curtain across one side of the Ely Arena, which can be customized to display almost anything — including custom messages. Humphreys said that one package the fairgrounds offers is aimed at popping the question.
“Can you imagine ‘Will you marry me?’ in huge letters on the side of Ely?” she asked. “That’s one thing we were really passionate about adding this year.”
The event concludes with a Santa’s village designed by local resident Stephanie Anderson, whose home on Northwest 14th Avenue is particularly noted for its elaborate Halloween and Christmas displays. The jolly old elf himself will visit the village to talk and take photos with children every night the fair is open.
The fairgrounds worked with a local light vendor to craft the rest of the Winter Fair experience, which boasts more than 200,000 lights.
The second annual Clackamas County Winter Fair kicks off Nov. 26 — the day after Thanksgiving — and runs every Friday and Saturday through Christmas Eve, as well as Dec. 16, 19, 22 and 23. Hours are 5 to 10 p.m.
The Winter Fair is being especially geared toward families this year, with free parking and no charge for children 10 and under. Tickets are $15 for adults and children 11 and older.
The Clackamas County Fairgrounds and Events Center is located at 694 NE 4th Ave. in Canby. For more information or tickets, visit ccwinterfair.com.
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