With a healthy sampling of new attractions alongside a handful of old favorites, organizers are putting finishing touches on the 155th annual production of the King County Fair.
The four-day fair kicks off July 13 at the Enumclaw Expo Center.
For the third time, the fair is being put on by the Enumclaw Expo and Events Association, the nonprofit entity charged with taking care of the 72-acre grounds and all its resources. Organizers are looking to continue a fair turnaround that has seen increased attendance in recent years, banking on a mix of fresh, new features with some familiar touches.
Scott Gray, director of the Expo and Events Association, acknowledges the continued challenge of putting on an event that first opened its doors while Abraham Lincoln roam the White House.
Gray and his group continue looking for ways to breathe new life into an attraction that boasts a long and proud history — despite a rocky stretch in which King County nearly mandated the fair into extinction. After the county handed the fair to the city of Enumclaw, it was operated for several years by Tennessee-based Universal Fairs, which saw attendance slip to just 7,600 in 2014.
In 2015, under the EEEA, attendance more than doubled to 15,700 and revenues also were healthier. Last year’s fair saw more than 20,000 people enter the gates and both carnival folks and food vendors reported healthier sales. In a report to the City Council, Gray said the attendance last year probably topped 25,000, because children 5 and younger were not included in daily counts.
A big part of the fair’s focus is on live entertainment and organizers continue looking local. There’s an emphasis to cater to a wide range of tastes without breaking the bank, Gray noted. With that in mind, featured entertainers include everything from Nearly Dan, a tribute band performing songs made famous by Steely Dan, to a western swing band and The Smilin’ Scandinavians, a polka band. Added to the mix are country and blues acts, plus The Herding Cats, a high energy cover band featuring Enumclaw native Jon Bolton.
All live entertainment is free with gate admission.
Food vendors will include some of the traditional favorites, Gray said, with newcomers like Auntie Anne’s Pretzels and a booth serving up Cajun fare.
Family-friendly acts retuning include pig racing, mutton bustin’ (kids riding sheep), the K9 Kings acrobatic dog act and a display of longhorn steers. New acts include the Wenatchee Youth Circus — where teenage performers display skills on the trapeze, high wire and more — and motorcycle stunt rider Robert Haslam.