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King County Fair gets rolling

From curly fries to cucumbers, from cowboys to carnival rides, the King County Fair opens today (Wednesday), hoping to offer something for everyone.

Carrying the theme, "Little Things are Big at the King County Fair," the Enumclaw event will embark on a five-day run. Gates open at 10 a.m. through Sunday and closing time is 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday; the grounds will be open an hour later Friday and Saturday night.

Admission cost this year is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors 62 and older, $4 for kids 6 to 15 years old. There's plenty of nearby parking, but be prepared to pay $5; also, fairgrounds neighbors turn a profit by turning their pastures into parking lots for five days.

The King County Fair was founded in 1863, 26 years before Washington achieved statehood. It began as a simple celebration of agriculture and took place in the Georgetown area south of Seattle. The fair moved to Renton around 1900, then came to Enumclaw after World War II. Organizers continue to bill the fair as "one of the last honest-to-goodness country fairs," and point to such attractions as livestock barns filled with 4-H and FFA projects, country performers and the rural setting itself.

The King County Fair also provides the basics common to any fair - carnival rides, commercial vendors and a wide variety of fair food.

An added attraction at the King County Fair is a two-day Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association-sanctioned rodeo. The rodeo begins at 6 p.m. both Friday and Saturday night.

Admission to the Friday rodeo is $5 for adults and $3 for kids (6 to 15); on Saturday, the prices jump to $7 and $5. There's also a two-day pass that runs $10 for adults and $6 for kids. Both days, children 5 and younger are admitted free. Anyone attending the rodeo will also be required to pay for admission to the fair.

Discounts

Pickle look-alikes will be admitted free to the King County Fair on Friday (from 10 a.m. to noon), but one doesn't have to dress like a marinated vegetable to get a price break.

From kids to seniors to active military personnel, the fair will offer a passel of discounts and promotions all five days, including free admission to seniors (today, Wednesday), free admissions for kids (Thursday), unlimited rides deals, a free breakfast and much more.

Below is a full list of King County Fair discounts and promotions:

€ Senior Day - Free admission today.

€ Safeway breakfast - Free Safeway breakfast with Safeway coupon along with free admission (from 8 to 10 a.m. only) today.

€ $1 each for all carnival rides - 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today.

€ Kids Day - Free admission on Thursday for those 16 years and younger.

€ Unlimited Rides Days - a one-time fee of $16 allows an unlimited number of carnival rides from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and Sunday.

€ Military Day - admission will be $6 for adults and $2 for children (with photo identification) on Friday.

€ King Pickle Contest Day - Free admission on Friday, between 10 a.m. and noon, for anyone dressed as a pickle.

€ Family Day - Admission for two adults and two children or one adult and three children is $18

on Sunday.

€ Two day rodeo pass - $10 for adults 16 and older, $6 for kids 6 to 15.

Concerts

The King County Fair not only features great live music - including such big name country acts as Jo Dee Messina - it provides an alternative to the expensive, mega-shows now prevailing on the Puget Sound summer music scene.

Fair Manager Dave Marks notes that fair concertgoers will sit in an intimate setting of no more than 1,900 people, enjoy artists up close and personal and pay from nothing (The Beatniks) to $39 (Messina).

Day-of-concert sales are available at the VIP Ticket Booth inside the Fairgrounds, but do not include fair admission. Gates to each show will open one hour prior and seating is on a first come/first served basis.

The concert schedule looks like this:

€ Sawyer Brown, 8 p.m. tonight - The group is known for generating energy, emotion and loyalty with their music and dynamic live shows. For 20 years, Sawyer Brown has produced fresh, fun and relevant songs and have been called the Rolling Stones of country music. Career highlights include 13 gold and platinum albums in the United States and Canada, 19 Top 5 county radio singles and more than 3,000 tour dates.

€ Grand Funk Railroad, 8 p.m. Thursday - Grand Funk Railroad formed in 1969 and became one of the top selling American rock groups of the following decade. Over the years they have 19 charted singles, 12 gold and 10 platinum records and have sold more than 25 million copies worldwide.

€ Jo Dee Messina, 8 p.m. Friday - Jo Dee Messina is a multi-platinum artist whose second release "I'm Alright" garnered Album of the Year nominations by the Academy of Country Music. The album also produced three consecutive No. 1 country singles on the Billboard charts, the first ever for a female artist. Accomplishments and awards have since followed, earning her a Top New Female Vocalist award for 1999, Billboard Most Played Country Female of 1999, Country Music Association's Horizon Award and Song of the Year for "Bye, Bye" at the ASCAP Awards. Her third album, "Burn," entered the Country Albums chart at No. 1 and sold more than a million copies and earned two Grammy nominations.

€ The Beatniks, 8 p.m. Saturday - The Beatniks are known for performing the tunes of the 1960s, '70s and '80s with high-energy and passion that appeals to audiences of all ages. Performances include cover versions of hits by industry favorites like The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, The Monkees and Beach Boys. They have more than 2,000 performances to their credit and have headlined shows that have drawn crowds of 20,000, such as the Seattle Space Needle New Year's Eve celebration.

€ Terri Clark, 6 p.m. Sunday - Nominated for Top Female Vocalist by the Academy of County Music, Clark will help close out the King County Fair on a great note. Her latest album, "Pain to Kill," landed on Billboard's country album chart at the No. 5 spot, with first-week sales doubling those of any of her four previous albums. The first single, "I Just Wanna Be Mad," hit No. 1 on the country charts. Clark is credited with seven Top10 singles and a single, double and triple platinum record.

Base Camp

The city of Enumclaw's 10th annual juried art exhibit, BaseCamp, will run the duration of the King County Fair. BaseCamp will operate out of a 20x40 tent on the grounds and be open the same hours as the fair itself.

The exhibit will feature two- and three-dimensional artwork by artists who submitted photographs or slides of their work for review and acceptance by the juror. The show will include exhibits in oil, watercolor, clay, pastel, charcoal, photography, collage, pencil, yarn, acrylic, marble and metal. This year's juror, Deborah Paine, has chosen the work of 36 artists (45 total pieces) to be included.

Those artists will be competing for cash prizes. The first-place winner will receive $1,000; second place earns $600; third place nets $400; and the person receiving the Arts Alive! Local Artist Award will get $500. In addition, there will be a "public choice" award, with the amount determined by visitor donations.

BaseCamp kicked off last night (Tuesday) with an opening celebration, during which Enumclaw Mayor John Wise presented the prize winners and Arts Alive! president Elaine Lynest announced the Local Artist Award.

New this year is a City of Enumclaw Annual Purchase Prize, funded by Puget Sound Energy. Organizers have selected a work by Joanne Symington, a Bremerton artist. Her work, entitled "Fuchsia Panel," is a sculpture created from a recycled hot water tank. The work will be purchased for the city's public art collection and will be rotated throughout the community for display.

Children will be able to create their own art at tables inside the BaseCamp tent. Materials will be free and supervision is provided by local volunteers. BaseCamp has over 30 volunteers for the local community.

BaseCamp is funded by the city of Enumclaw, Puget Sound Energy, Arts Alive!, Mt. Rainier National Bank and QFC.

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