For groups like the Wy’east Wranglers, fair is the highlight of summer

July 23, 2011

The Wy'east Wranglers galloped through the river with their horses; hair blowing in the wind, water splashing on all sides and sand flying behind the finely groomed animals as horse and rider fade as one into the sunrise.

No, this is not the last page of a cheesy wild west paperback.

The Wy'east Wranglers, a 4-H club based out of Odell, took a field trip of sorts to the Hood River Marina Wednesday morning. The group of 10 young girls is preparing for the Hood River County Fair, and to highlight the theme this year of "From the Mountain to the River," the group spent the morning galloping around the shallow, sandy water in front of the marina.

In reverse order to avoid people at the marina beach, the group then headed up to Parkdale, to a property on Allen Road, to frolic around a field with a towering view of Mount Hood.

The girls, ranging in age from fourth to eighth grade, have been working all year to prepare for the excitement the fair brings to their summers.

"Fair is the highlight of the year for the club," said Jodi Jones, group leader. "It's a lot of hard work and they are pretty busy during the week, but they get to camp out, spend time with friends and compete in something they've been working hard on."

"It has given me the confidence to try new things," Calli Achziger, 12, said about the Wranglers program. "I'm excited to see how my horses are going to do because I have been working hard with them all year."

The Wy'east Wranglers have been a 4-H club for about 15 years; and before that for about 40 years under the name Gilhouley Gauchos. Members of the club participate and compete in events all year; but for many, the Hood River County Fair is the time to shine.

"For our Intermediate and Senior riders (grades 7-9), they are trying to qualify for the state fair, which is the biggest event and the culmination of the entire season," Jones said. "We usually have a high number of girls who qualify, and for ones who don't, it's often because they just aren't old enough yet."

The Oregon State Fair, from Aug. 26 to Sept. 5 in Salem, has been one of the largest annual gatherings in the state since its inception in the 1850s.

"Eventful," Harleigh Knoll, 16, said of her fair experience. "My favorite part is spending time with 4-H friends and competing in a fun environment … I have learned aspects of a team sport though horses, which typically isn't a team sport. It is a great experience and I would definitely regret it if I had not gotten involved."

Jones explained that, like many who participate in the fair, the girls will be busy with a variety of events and activities. Within the equestrian schedule, events include showmanship, gaming, jumping, ranch riding, trail class, dressage, roping, barrel racing and more. Riders generally compete in multiple events, and many have entirely different entries to keep track of as well.

"The girls get up early, clean out the stalls, take care of their horses, get ready for their events and compete," Jones said. "Courtney (Casteneda), for example, will be showing a steer, goat and pig in addition to her horse, so she's going to be a busy girl."

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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