Chas Hudley is my independent journalism buddy here in Washington County: he runs both the Gales Creek Journal and the Banks Post. If you’re at all curious about what happens west of Hillsboro these are must-read publications.

This week two opinion articles in those rural papers respond to the Fairgrounds’ main exhibit hall coming down this summer—one against, one for. Both articles are worth reading.

Opposing the change was Lyle Spiesschaert, a forth generation farmer, who is concerned the county’s plans to build an event center on the fairgrounds is crowding tradition:

In the recent twenty years, the county leadership has methodically and purposefully destroyed buildings, relationships, and either sold or traded land to assure an Event Center for the fairgrounds. If you did not agree you were silenced. This is in spite of the fact that the citizens have voted on numerous occasions to not support this effort. A multimillion dollar event center will not support the core mission of a fairgrounds, rather will provide more assets for the economic engines of our county.  An event center on the fairgrounds in itself would be fine, but to take and destroy all of the current structures and uses to build it is outrageous.

Andy Duyck, Chair of the Washington County Board of Commissioners, penned a response:

As our community is growing and changing, so should our fairgrounds. No one is saying we must abandon our agricultural roots. In fact it is because we are planning for multi-purpose buildings and uses that our traditional fair-going heritage is likely to continue for our kids and grandkids. This means that anything we do with our fairgrounds — any building we construct or maintain — should serve both traditional as well as nontraditional uses if our fairgrounds is to remain vital and thriving in the future.

Again, both articles are worth reading in full. The conversation about maintaining our agricultural past while looking toward the future is as relevant here in Hillsboro as it is in nearby rural areas.