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From Vaccine Headquarters to Monster Trucks

Post-pandemic activities and events are ramping up at Redmond's fairgrounds



  • Damian Fagan
The Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center located in Redmond is much, much more than "just a fairground." In addition to events, the fairground has served as an evacuation center for residents and their animals displaced by wildfires.

"We offer numerous public-friendly events to our community to make sure we have something for everyone," said Geoff Hinds, facility director. The 320-acre site, located close to the Redmond airport, offers over 114,000 square feet of indoor space and numerous facilities for livestock.

"This is one of the premier facilities of its type in the entire nation," said Hinds. "It was really well planned and thought out, giving a lot of flexibility to be able to host numerous types of activities and the ability to host multiple unique activities simultaneously, just due to the sheer size of the property and the way it was designed." It's not uncommon for the fairgrounds to host several events on a single day or over a weekend.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the fairgrounds transformed into a regional center for Oregonians to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. The Expo Center partnered with the Deschutes County Health Services and St. Charles Health System, along with the Oregon National Guard, to administer vaccines to thousands of tri-county residents.

"In May, instead of having a single, standup facility, there was a move to a more decentralized distribution model where vaccinations are now being provided through local drugstores and community-based health centers," said Hinds.

With some relief from the pandemic in progress, the fairgrounds staff has been busy scheduling a variety of events—everything from fairs to concerts, to livestock and football competitions, van expos and monster truck rallies.

Following are just a few of the numerous activities happening at the fairgrounds.

Deschutes County Fair and Rodeo

Right around the corner is the 101st Deschutes County Fair and Rodeo with this year's theme, "Back in the Saddle Again," an appropriate nod to the fair being bucked off the calendar due to the coronavirus pandemic last year and returning this year, July 28-Aug. 1. Carnival rides, grounds entertainment, nightly rodeos, fair food and exhibitor contests will surely entertain fairgoers. There will also be a Talent Show and the winner, $250 richer, will be invited to compete at the Oregon State Fair in Salem later in the summer.

  • Courtesy Deschutes County Fair

Pro football

A new addition to the facility this year was the Oregon High Desert Storm Pro Indoor Football team of the American West Football Conference. The Storm call the 4,000-seat First Interstate Bank Center indoor arena home field, and this year have already qualified for the playoffs in the late August championship (the 27th or 28th).

"We're peaking at the right time," said Keith Evans, coach and general manager of the Storm. "If we win out our last three games, we'll host the championship here in Redmond." Home games average about 1,600 fans, and the team is made up of former college players working hard to get a shot at the next level. "I'm all about moving guys up," added Evans. Several players have already signed contracts with professional teams in Canada (CFL) and overseas in Germany. The Storm play their last regular-season home game on Saturday, July 24 at 7 pm.

Summer concerts

On Aug. 11, the Redmond Summer Concert Series continues with Erin Cole-Baker, a singer/songwriter who grew up in New Zealand and has returned to Central Oregon to live with her family. The free concert series is supported by numerous community sponsors, including the title sponsors First Interstate Bank and Eberhard's Dairy Products. With plenty of room to stretch out, the outdoor venue is perfect for blankets and lawn chairs to listen to the music. Vendors will be serving food and beverages, and there will be arts and crafts booths to peruse as well. Music is from 6-7:30 pm.

Adventure vans!

Labor Day Weekend, Sept. 3-5, the Adventure Van Expo Series 2021 rolls into town. Now in its fourth year, this show is "van-centric" but does include companies that produce camper equipment. Numerous companies such as Winnebago, Tourig, Four Winds Campers, Storyteller Overland, Specialized, and others that produce vans or camping accessories will be on hand to showcase their products and gear.

The Adventure Van Expo Series returns to Redmond Labor Day weekend. - COURTESY ADVENTURE VAN EXPO
  • Courtesy Adventure Van Expo
  • The Adventure Van Expo Series returns to Redmond Labor Day weekend.

"It's a consumer show where folks come to find a van, a builder, a part, or an accessory for their van," said Neil Morris, organizer. The event will also include food and beverage vendors as well as some entertainment. "We expect over 8,000 folks to attend and this is one of the biggest van shows in the country," added Morris.

Visit the Expo Center's online calendar for a complete list of events. "We're excited for this year and we're not done yet," said Hines. "There's more on the horizon."

Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center

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