Commissioner Elfering Bullish on EOTEC, Despite ‘A Few Bumps’

The Umatilla County Fair and Farm-City Pro Rodeo are kicking off their first year this week at their new location - the Eastern Oregon Trade & Event Center. (Photo: Michael Kane)

Every new venue has a few kinks that need to be worked out and the Eastern Oregon Trade & Event Center (EOTEC) is no exception.

Bill Elfering
Bill Elfering

After years in the planning, EOTEC made its debut on Tuesday as home to the Umatilla County Fair and Farm-City Pro Rodeo. The $16 million facility was paid for through a variety of funding sources. With a couple of exceptions, the facility and property got positive reviews after the first couple days of the fair and rodeo. Those who attended the fair on Tuesday and Wednesday generally gave it high marks.

Umatilla County Commissioner Bill Elfering was on the grounds on Saturday and Monday prior to the fair and rodeo kickoff.

“All I could say when I saw EOTEC being dressed up for the fair was, ‘Wow. This is incredible.’ It has class written all over it.  It isn’t perfect yet, but it’s a long way down the road toward it.  As a new facility, it can be expected that there will be a few bumps rolling it out on it’s ‘maiden voyage.’  This will be a learning year and a lot of to-do lists will be being compiled with things to change or improve for next year.”

One common complaint about the EOTEC grounds this week has been getting in and out of the grounds.

One fairgoer complained on the fair’s Facebook page that it took 30 minutes to get out of the parking lot after attending the fair Wednesday night. Elfering said that issue is being addressed.

“We know ingress and egress for the facility are not ideal but, thanks to efforts of State Rep. Greg Smith and State Sen. Bill Hansell, funds were included in the transportation bill to widen and pave both Airport Road and Ott Road.  Next year, it will look a lot different and really be a lot easier.”

Elfering said he is excited for the facility’s future and encourages everyone to check it out during fair and rodeo week.

“Everyone needs to come look around,” he said. “The present and future of the Umatilla County Fair, Farm-City Pro Rodeo and EOTEC is bright indeed.”