Laura Wiens, The Triplicate

The origins of the Del Norte County Fair go back a long way -- 120 years to be exact - and organizers want to capture those days of yesteryear with a special memorabilia display for this year's fair, which runs from Aug. 1 through 4 at the Del Norte County Fairgrounds.

Kim Floyd, a fairgrounds employee who is assisting with the display, says they're looking for "anything and everything."

"What we would like is for people to bring in the oldest fair photo or memory that they have or one that has been passed down in their family," said Kim. "Any type of memorabilia - awards, stories, photos - even from (fairs held at) our current location; we're just trying to find really old stuff."

According to Kim, the first fair in 1893 was held at Reservation Ranch in Smith River, owned by the Westbrook family. It was staged in a pasture area off Sarina Road. In 1901 the fair was relocated to the Wakefield Ranch on Old Mill Road. Twenty years later, it was moved to its current location.

"We have a photo of the fair in 1893," said Kim, "and a ticket to the sixth annual 41st District Grand Ball, which was held in the Brookings Hall in Smith River."

Kim said they have all the "premium books" or exhibitor's handbooks from 1953 on.

"The fair used to be big into horse racing," said Kim, "and a Grand Ball was something they did back then. It's pretty neat to see Fair Board members, a procession list and what dances they were going to do. They're pretty fun to look at. It's interesting to see how things have changed."

She says she'd love to find someone with one of the old carts used for the horse and buggy racing events.

"Haul it on in, we'll find a place for it," she said.

Anyone with items to share can call the fairgrounds at 464-9556.

Gardener adds gifts

Everything's coming up roses at the Dutch Gardener.

On Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at 835 Bertsch Ave., owners Teri McCune Oostra and Kees Oostra will celebrate their business going full-time with a ribbon-cutting and grand opening of a new addition to the nursery, a gift shop where customers can purchase aprons, bird houses and other items.

"I've always done a lot of handcrafting," said Teri. "We've been slowly building it up by reinvesting back into it, and now we've reached the final step."

The Dutch Gardener opened in 1990 and has always offered a wide variety of plants and flowers.

"The community helped build our business and now we want to celebrate," said Teri.

Keeping grads safe

The focus is on preventing drunk driving this week at Del Norte High School, with a mock fatal car accident unfolding on the campus, complete with emergency response by ground and air.

While the Every 15 Minutes event happens only once every two years, another event with the same goal happens every year: the Safe and Sober graduation night.

Organizers are busy right now collecting donations of food, prizes and cash for the overnight party that offers graduating seniors a way to celebrate that ensures they'll live to experience what comes after high school.

All graduating seniors in Del Norte County are invited to the event that begins at 8 p.m. Friday, June 14, shortly after the DNHS commencement ceremony, and continues until 4 a.m. Saturday, June 15.

This is always a big event, and this year's version will feature games, a mechanical bull, a bungee wall, a deejay, karaoke, videos and a raffle for a car. Every senior who attends will get a prize, said Michelle Moore.

Michelle is one of three organizers, along with Eva Lopez and Debbie Bruschi.

Like everywhere, Del Norte has experienced its share of tragedies around graduation time, Michelle said. "We want to make sure this doesn't repeat, and that they have someplace to go, They're excited that school's out, and bad things can happen."

The need is still great for more contributions, and they need to be received by June 7.

"We'll take anything and we'll make it work," said Michelle.

For more information or to make a donation, call Michelle at 954-0520.