By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

It's all about the fair

Starla Pointer/News-RegisterYamhill County Fair & Rodeo ambassadors Katie Noragon and Marissa Dyck are encouraging people to enter the fair. During the July 31-Aug. 3 event, they will greet guests and help with activities.
Starla Pointer/News-Register
Yamhill County Fair & Rodeo ambassadors Katie Noragon and Marissa Dyck are encouraging people to enter the fair. During the July 31-Aug. 3 event, they will greet guests and help with activities.

“I love the fair!” said Dyck, a June graduate of McMinnville High School.

She’s getting ready to start college this fall. She plans to become a conservation biologist, and will be studying biology and environmental resources at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.

She’ll be taking her horses with her. She plans to join the ranch horse and equestrian teams.

But this summer, she’s busy fulfilling her duties as fair and rodeo ambassador, junior superintendent for horses and 4-H ambassador. In addition, she’ll be showing her horses during the fair’s July 31 to Aug. 3 run.

“I got into horses as a freshman, and horses and the fair became close to my heart,” she said.

Dyck, daughter of Jeff and Julie Dyck, first applied to become an ambassador last year. But she was a lot quieter then, she said, and the committee suggested she try again her senior year.

And this time, she was chosen for one of the two ambassador positions, each of which includes a $1,000 scholarship sponsored by donations from Cascade Steel Rolling Mills Inc., Yamhill County Master Gardeners Association and United Steelworkers Local 8378. 

“It’s great they selected us out of all the candidates,” Dyck said. “It will be really fun, more an opportunity than a duty.”

Her fellow ambassador agreed.

“It’s a huge honor,” said Noragon, daughter of Jim and Lea Noragon. “We’ll get to be behind the scenes, go to fair board meetings and see how things work.”

Noragon heard about the ambassador program from John Nyberg, a Newberg 4-H leader. Her principal at Newberg High also mentioned the program to her and encouraged her to apply.

It sounded like a good fit with her other fair activities, which include showing cavies, a miniature horse, a goat and various art pieces, including photos, drawings, woodworks and painting.

She had just taken a class in interviewing, so when she was called before the ambassador selection committee, “I went in with confidence,” she said.

Noragon enjoys photography. She always uses her camera to document her church mission trips, such as the one she took in 2012 to help rebuild tornado-flattened Joplin, Mo.

She also has accompanied other members of her church, Living Savior Lutheran in Tualatin, on trips to Canada to help homeless people and to San Antonio to assist after flash flood damage.

While in San Antonio this summer, she also checked out colleges. She wants to find just the right place to study genetics and microbiology.

“Science is my strength,” she said. “I want to be a genetic engineer.”

She’s already doing a genetics project, selectively breeding her cavies to produce a checkerboard patterned coat.

Noragon has been a fan of cavies, or guinea pigs, since she was in second grade and saw one at a friend’s house. She and her sister adopted their first cavies when she was in seventh-grade, and she soon was taking part in a 4-H cavy club.

“Then I went to the fair and had a blast,” recalled Noragon, who also participates in FFA with her cavies.

She started a breeding project with purebreds. Soon her breeding pair had babies, which are born with hair, open eyes and teeth, ready to eat solid food.

“One or two cavies are easy to handle,” said Noragon, who wants to become qualified as a cavy judge. “They’re very personable.”

But she said, “I have 30 to 45. That’s a bit of a chore.”

During this year’s fair, she’ll show cavies in confirmation and showmanship classes one day, her goat another day and her miniature horse two other days.

Dyck will show her rabbits and her jewelry. And and she’ll be competing in horse events almost every day, as she does Western, English and timed.

She has two horses, an 18-year-old Arabian gelding named Chizky, which she uses for performance, trail riding and English and Western equitation; and a 12-year-old quarter horse gelding, Frito, which she rides in barrel, flag and key races.

She went to state last year with both horses, and is set on going again.

She also is training a Clydesdale colt, Jack. She won a blue ribbon with Jack in the prefair and hopes to take him to state, too.

The horses keep her busy.

“I usually spend most of my time around the barns,” she said. “Evenings I get to go out an enjoy the rest of the fair.”

This year, all her time between events will be spent on ambassador duties. She and Noragon will greet guests and suggest things for them to do and see while on the fairgrounds.

“I’d suggest something to fit your interests,” Noragon said.

“Maybe you like horses, or want to take the kids to the carnival or look at the open class exhibits. And you have to try the milkshakes,” she said, ticking off some of her favorite parts of the fair.

Dyck added, “Walk the barns and see what the kids have done. It’s pretty amazing.

“And you should go to both the rodeo and the concerts, definitely. It’s a great deal. They’re included for the entrance fee.”

The two ambassadors will take part in grand entries before each rodeo show.

With the fair still three weeks away, they’ve already made numerous public appearances and speeches to service clubs to promote the event.

They’ve handed out awards at the Willamina Mud Drags and taken part in several parades.

They rode together in the Phil Sheridan Days Parade, while Noragon caught the Carlton Fun Days Parade and Dyck the St. Paul Rodeo Parade. They’re looking forward to riding in the Turkey Rama parade this Friday as well.

“We encourage people to come to the fair and to enter the fair,” Dyck said. “We tell them how fun it is, and what a great experience to meet all the people and see all the animals.”

Starla Pointer, who is convinced everyone has an interesting story to tell, has been writing the weekly “Stopping By” column since 1996. She’s always looking for suggestions. Contact her at 503-687-1263 or


Think now about entries and tickets

It’s time to start thinking about what you’ll enter in the Yamhill County Fair.

The fair & rodeo will run Wednesday, July 31, through Saturday, Aug. 3. Animal events, rodeo shows, big-name concerts and plenty of other entertainment is scheduled daily.

And throughout the fair, Yamhill County residents will be able to view some of the best their neighbors have to offer — handmade quilts, homegrown vegetables, homemade pies.

Anyone can enter art or baking or garden produce in the fair. There’s no charge. You’ll just need to make sure your entries comply with the rules — the correct size and mounting for photos, for instance, or the right number of radishes or roses — and bring them to the fairgrounds at the correct time a few days before the fair starts.

The rules are spelled out in the Yamhll County Fair & Rodeo book, available from the fairgrounds office, local stores and online at

Fair admission tickets also are available now. Advance tickets cost $20 for a four-day adult pass or $7.50 for a child’s pass. Special reserved seating for each concert costs $7; open seating is included with fair admission.

During the fair, admission will be $10 per day for adults and $5 per day for children 5 to 12 years of age after 3 p.m.; before 3, kids 12 and younger will be admitted free. Special discount days for seniors and veterans are planned, along with a kids’ day that will feature discount carnival rides.

Parking on the fairgrounds costs $3 per day.

For more information, check the fair website or call 503-434-7524.

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