| Early into the 20th Century the community
of Cove with its orchards of cherries, prunes and apples,
and fields of raspberries and strawberries decided to announce
the quality and abundance of their produce to the world.
When the Cove Cherry Fair was established in 1910 the predominant
orchard crops were cherries. Cherries were sorted and packed
for shipment to the eastern markets in iced railroad cars,
but fruit was sold throughout eastern Oregon as well. The
Cherry Fair began as a way of advertising Cove’s cherries
and at the same time holding a community celebration. A
caravan of Cove residents traveled to other Union County
communities to advertise and announce the Fair.
The Cherry Fair Court of young adults reigned over the Fair, with with King Bing and Queen Anne selected to be rulers of the day. Activities included a parade through the streets of Cove, musical performances, poetry reading. Prominent speakers included Oregon governors, such as former Cove resident T. T. Geer, and other dignitaries. Joaquin Miller, noted Oregon poet, was a honored speaker at one of the Fairs.
Cherries were arranged in displays depicting the A sumptuous dinner followed by a baseball game, usually won by Cove ’s town team filled the afternoon. The ceremonies ended with a community dance.
The Cove-Union railroad ran a number of special excursions, and hundreds of visitors from throughout the Grande Ronde Valley joined in the celebrations. America’s entrance into World War I diminished the interests and resources to continue the Fair with the last recorded event taking place in 1918.
Today for different reasons, but with the same
fervor the Cherry Fair has been reborn. Each year as Cove launches
the Cherry Fair it seeks to recapture the sense
of community pride and unity that characterized the Fairs
of some 90 years ago.
It is a celebration of this small picturesque
community, which treasures its past and looks with promise
to the future. It is an event where local citizens and
guests can share the warmth and welcome that characterizes
so many small communities throughout Oregon and our nation.
The Cove Arts Festival and Cherry Fair was created by the Cove Community Association. The Association, established in 1999, is a nonprofit organization charged with managing community change and increasing the quality of life for Cove citizens. The Festival and Fair is only one of several Association priorities.