Fair kicks off Thursday, makes four-day run

The King County Fair has been around a mighty long time – gates first opened when Abraham Lincoln was strolling the halls of the White House – but the 2015 edition of the fair has a brand-new feel.

The four-day attraction opens Thursday on the grounds of the Enumclaw Expo Center, maintaining its billing as the oldest continuous fair west of the Mississippi. This marks the 153rd annual fair.

With $7 admission tickets and $5 parking, the fair gates will open at 10 a.m. daily. The fun continues until 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday, midnight on Saturday and 6 p.m. Sunday.

Plenty has happened behind the scenes during the past year, making the 2015 fair an interesting venture. The city has turned the Expo Center over to a local nonprofit group, which also is putting on this year’s King County Fair. For the past several seasons, the fair was operated by Tennessee-based Universal Fairs.

Visitors this week “will see some things they haven’t seen before,” said Scott Gray, Expo Center director.

The nonprofit Enumclaw Expo and Events Association has attempted to return traditional elements to the fair while giving fairgoers more bang for their buck.

Ticking off a list of 2015 highlights, Gray noted the number of Exhibit Hall vendors has doubled from last year, the list of food vendors has grown from just three to an even dozen and the traditional agricultural emphasis is returning. For example, livestock barns will be filled this year and the Enumclaw High FFA chapter will operate a petting zoo.

Gray also is excited about a zip line that will thrill customers with a 250-foot ride.

Organizers also looked to entertainment to help draw guests to the grounds and have booked three well-known headline acts. Jr. Cadillac will perform oldies on Thursday, Elvis illusionist Danny Vernon takes the stage Friday and Buckley native Blaine Larsen provides Saturday’s main show. All three headline acts will begin at 7 p.m.

There will be plenty of other entertainment on two stages. Sunday will take on a Hispanic flair, with Banda Perla Blanca and Lobo Z7 taking the main stage and Mexican dancers on the family stage.

All the entertainment is free with gate admission. However, due to local interest, the fair is offering reserved “up front” seating for Larsen’s Saturday night show. Those tickets are $25.

More information can be found at www.enumclawkingcountyfair.com.