Traditional fair returns to Enumclaw

Enumclaw’s King County Fair kicks off its three-day run Thursday, bringing a new sense of energy to a 146-year-old tradition.

Enumclaw’s King County Fair kicks off its three-day run Thursday, bringing a new sense of energy to a 146-year-old tradition.

The city of Enumclaw has taken over operation of the oldest county fair west of the Mississippi and the theme for this year’s edition is “Let’s Go Wild.”

The city is bringing back some favorite events and creating some new traditions including: the Critter Crowning Contest, lawnmower races, a tractor pull and a variety of musical guests. A carnival is also returning to the fairgrounds, with the Scrambler and Cliffhanger joining more than a dozen rides being offered.

The fair will open at 10 a.m. Thursday and run through 8 p.m. Saturday. Admission to the event is free and parking is $5 per vehicle.

The fair has weathered some rocky times lately and its future was in serious doubt.

As a result of declining attendance and a projected $93 million deficit in King County’s general fund, the fair’s $318,000 contribution from county taxpayers was cut from the county executive’s 2009 budget proposal. Councilmembers’ offices were flooded with calls, e-mails and letters from residents advocating that funding be restored.

After weeks of public testimony, including a well-attended town hall at the Enumclaw Expo Center fieldhouse, the council reinstated the funding and asked the city of Enumclaw to run the fair in 2009. The council also created a Fair Task Force that is currently evaluating how to make the fair sustainable for the future.

Fair Manager Joan Lewis has noted several highlights:

• the fair kicks off at 10 a.m. Thursday with the traditional Critter Crowning Contest, a process that determines which cow, horse, chicken or other creature will reign over this year’s event. Ron Upshaw, from KIRO Radio’s popular Ron and Don talk show, will serve as master of ceremonies for the event and is grand marshall for the fair.

• the lawnmower races, slated for 6:30 p.m. Saturday, will feature a pair of head-to-head battles. Upshaw will challenge his radio partner and longtime friend Don O’Neill in one race, while the other has Enumclaw Mayor John Wise taking on King County Councilman Reagan Dunn.

• at age 30, Washington Horse of the Century Chinook Pass doesn’t move quite as fast as he did when he was national sprint champion of 1983, but when he sees his trailer being backed up to his stall he gets right in. He knows that his longtime companion, Jill Hallin, will be taking him somewhere to meet his fans and there’s nothing he likes better. Between noon and 6 p.m. all three days of the fair, the public will have the opportunity to meet the living legend in the horse barn.

• Thursday night will bring a mutton bustin’ competition, where young riders weighing 60 pounds or less will try their hand at riding sheep. There’s no admission charge to watch, but there will be an entry fee for contestants. Registration begins at 3 p.m. Thursday and competition begins at 5 p.m. in the rodeo arena.

• one of the critical attractions missing from last year’s fair was a carnival, a situation the city has remedied. Discounted tickets are available by visiting until 9 tonight, Wednesday.

• featured entertainers include Bobby Medina’s Red Hot Band at 8 p.m. Thursday; The Beatniks at 4 p.m. Friday; Dan Whyms and his Johnny Cash tribute show at 8 p.m. Friday; Heart for a Tin Man, playing progressive rock at 6:30 p.m. Saturday; and Freddy Pink, a nine-piece rock and soul band at 8 p.m. Saturday

• the seminar stage will feature a rotating slate of experts, many dealing with “green” themes. Local gardening expert Marianne Binetti will take the stage a 4 each afternoon.

More in News

Jeter returns to Bonney Lake as police chief

The city has grown since he left 13 years ago, but Bryan Jeter says he’s ready for the challenge.

Cross-country cyclists make first stop in Enumclaw

Pi Kappa Phi fraternity members from all around the country stopped at Ashley House on their first stop on the Journey of Hope tour.

Staying involved helped one man out of homelessness, and empower others | Public Health Insider

Having a cause and advocating for others helped Greg Francis leave homelessness behind.

Wyatt Hodder same in third in one of this year’s tree climbing competitions. Photo by Ashley Britschgi
Junior Show attracts 142 competitors, here are the winners

Make sure you don’t miss the big event next weekend.

City shifts approach on downtown property plans

The Enumclaw City Council decided to seek “letters of interest” from potential developers instead of a traditional Request for Proposals.

After Seattle’s controversial employee head tax was repealed, King County Executive Dow Constantine wants to bond against existing tax revenues to generate $100 million for affordable housing. Photo by Joe Mabel/Wikipedia Commons
County executive proposes $100 million affordable housing bond

The money was already coming, but Constantine wants to speed up the process.

Bonney Lake High School graduation 2018 | Slideshow

Check out the Panthers in their cap and gowns getting ready for life’s next challenges.

Programs come together for benefit of White River graduates

Check out which Hornets were honored during the 2018 graduation.

Enumclaw Health and Rehab offers free nursing training

The next round of classes starts Monday, June 26, and runs through July 24.

Most Read