A longtime member of the Deschutes County Fair’s board of directors received a top honor for the event’s centennial edition, a year after seeing her son get the same designation.

Rachel McIntosh started on the board in 1981 and has been a fixture at the fair, starting in its former location closer to downtown and more recently staffing the South Sister Building at the fairgrounds near the Redmond Airport.

“I have always had a passion for fairs,” she told the Spokesman after being honored at a July 31 opening ceremony. “Just to see the people with their happy faces and the accomplishments they’ve made.”

McIntosh, 82, was reminded of the former managers, fair queens and grand marshals while speaking.

She took her photo with several past grand marshals, including her son, Redmond School District Superintendent Mike McIntosh. Mike, who is passionate about draft horses and the fair’s rodeo, served as grand marshal last year.

“You know that was OK,” she said. “Mike’s a special person, he loves fair like I do and has been involved with the Deschutes County Fair since he was probably 7 or 8 years old.”

Mike McIntosh said it was “pretty darn cool” to see his mother serve as grand marshal the year after he did.

“She’s been intricately involved with the fair for a long time,” he said. “For her to be the 100th year grand marshal, I think, is extra special.”

Rachel McIntosh credits all the people involved with the fair for helping it reach the century mark.

“If we didn’t have volunteers, if we didn’t have staff, if we didn’t have the people that came, we wouldn’t have a fair,” she said. “That’s what makes a fair successful...It just takes all of us to make it work.”

Rachel McIntosh starts working about a week before the fair and then spends about 10 hours a day at the fairgrounds until the event wraps up.

“She could have raised a child in the amount of time she spent here,” joked former Redmond mayor and county commissioner Alan Unger, himself a former fair grand marshal.

Don Slone, a longtime fair official in Oregon, praised McIntosh’s dedication to the Oregon Fairs Association board, which oversees 36 county fairs and the state fair in Salem. She served as the organization’s president in 2011-12.

“You do have the diamond in the rough,” Slone told the crowd gathered for the ceremony. “She’s very determined, very dedicated, very experienced. On behalf of all the fairs in Oregon, I’d like to give Rachel a big congratulations.”

Rachel McIntosh helped break a tradition of Fair Association board members having to wait until they are retired to serve as grand marshal. Her son said the decision was simultaneously made to have Mike be the 2018 grand marshal, with Rachel serving at the centennial event.

“I think they felt there was an exception needed, and there was probably a lot of unanimity,” Mike McIntosh said of his mother getting the nod.

During her remarks to the audience, Rachel McIntosh spoke of the fair growing from a potato festival to becoming the largest county fair in the state.

The grand marshal’s speech helped cap an opening ceremony July 31. The event featured the release of doves during the national anthem and the raising of the flag by Veterans of Foreign Wars members.

Fairgoers then went in to the carnival rides, corn dogs and livestock that makes the annual festivities special.

— Reporter: 541-548-2186, gfolsom@redmondspokesman.com