Expo Center preparing to host ‘balloon glow,’ plenty more

This is one of the few events the Expo Center is funding itself, rather than just simply renting out space.

Image courtesy Enumclaw Expo Center.

Image courtesy Enumclaw Expo Center.

Editor’s note: An unknown technical issue in the Aug. 28 edition of The Courier-Herald resulted in this story not being fully published. You can read the full story below.

The summer season might be winding down, but there’s still plenty of activity occurring at the Enumclaw Expo Center.

Rene Popke, director of the Enumclaw Events and Expo Association, was scrambling last week preparing for the weekend pro rodeo, meeting with representatives for the upcoming Hometown Throwdown and ironing out details for the Sept. 7 “balloon glow” event that will grace Enumclaw’s night sky for the first time.

The EEEA is the nonprofit entity charged with running the city-owned Expo Center and handling all events.

While some events primarily involve just renting the grounds (Scottish Highland Games and Olympic Kennel Club dog show, for example) the “balloon glow” is being hosted by the EEEA. And, as of last week, Popke reports all plans are on track.

There will be a minimum of six balloons on the grounds, she said, and a sponsor has been rounded up for each. At least 11 food trucks will be in attendance, she said, and the Buck-Up Bar will be in operation for the 21-and-older crowd. Live music will provide entertainment from 5:30 p.m. until the show begins and, because it’s a family-friendly event, there will be a special area for kids.

The stars of the evening will be the tethered hot-air balloons provided by Seattle Ballooning. It’s a choreographed show, with balloons moving up and down, and changing colors, synchronized with a musical score.

Admission is $5 per person; or, a family pass is $20 and allows up to five people. More information is available at www.enumclawexpo.com.

FAIR DEEMED A SUCCESS

The biggest event of the year for the Expo and Events Association is the King County Fair. It’s an annual attraction that enjoyed years of prosperity under King County’s guidance, then hit rock bottom when the county suffered during the last recession.

Popke has happily reported that a fair resurgence continued this summer. The July 18-21 fair brought in a “hard count” attendance of nearly 30,000 she said, up from about 22,000 a year ago. That figure does not include things like 4-H members that might come and go throughout the day.

Aside from rebounding attendance numbers, this year’s fair also was viewed favorably by a sanctioned inspector. Popke explained all fairs are judged every two years by a fair commissioner who works under the auspices of the state’s Department of Agriculture.

It was a pretty big deal, she said, when the local fair was handed three “black and white” ribbons. Those were issued for the fair’s livestock barn and rabbit barn, as well as ongoing improvements to the grounds.

The accolades are nice, Popke said, but such awards also increase the odds of securing future grants.

STILL COMING TO THE GROUNDS

With the rodeo in the books, the EEEA staff is preparing for a handful of late-summer events.

• Hometown Throwdown is a one-day concert that delivers some top country performers to the Enumclaw stage. The Sept. 1 show, sponsored by Seattle radio station 100.7 The Wolf, will feature Cole Swindell, Chase Rice and Jordan Davis, among others, and has Blanco Brown as the featured artist.

• September 14 brings Redfest, a festival dedicated – by its own admission – to “outdoor drinking and other dumb stuff.” Expect live entertainment, food, plenty of games and more than 15 beers available on-site.

• The weekend of Sept. 20-21 brings something of a doubleheader to the Expo Center grounds. While one crowd peruses a swap meet, another will be enjoying a gun show.

• Sept. 27-28 is dedicated to a quilt show and the following weekend, Oct. 4-5, will welcome a toy dog show.

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