The King County Fair, now boasting 156 consecutive years of operation, will kick off a four-day run next week.
This year’s edition starts with opening ceremonies – including the return of the popular Critter Crowning – the morning of July 18 at the Enumclaw Expo Center.
The fair continues its rebound from the dark days of a decade ago when the county sliced funding, the attractions were not so attractive and attendance dwindled to precarious levels. A turning point came when the entire Expo Center operation, including the fair, was turned over to the nonprofit Enumclaw Expo and Events Association.
Rene Popke, just 10 months into her job as general manager for the EEEA, is guiding her first fair and appreciates how the community continues to rally around the event. She’s no stranger to the Expo Center, having previously served on its board of directors, and has noticed how the entire business community is realizing the value of a successful fair.
This year’s fair will see gates opening at 10 a.m. every day. Things will close at 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, July 18-20, and 6 p.m. on the final day. General admission is $10, but presale tickets are available for $7 at area Safeway stores. There are discounts for military members and senior citizens and children younger than 5 are always admitted free. Parking is available on the Expo Center grounds for $5.
While an admission ticket includes all music, entertainment and exhibits, it does not include carnival rides. Wristbands that allow all-day access to rides are being sold at a discounted price of $22 at the Expo Center office and can also be purchased online at kingcofair.com.
ON THE MAIN STAGE
Thirteen different acts will grace the Main Stage, which has moved this year from the north end of the grounds. It’s now a bit more centrally located, close to the food courts and the beer-and-wine garden. Saturday, July 20, is Country Day at the fair with acts like the Honky Tonk Sweethearts at noon, followed by Maile Mae, Bret Martin and Chad Bushnell.
Thursday will be capped by a 7 p.m. performance by a popular regional band, The Beatniks. Other entertainment is as diverse as the pop/rock mix of Raucous; a 1960s girl group Los Orchids; cover band CYLAS; the retro repertoire of The New Rhythmatics; and the R&B emphasis provided by Groove Kitchen.
Taking things in a different direction will by hypnotist Jerry Harris, a regular at the fair.
ENTERTAINMENT ALL OVER
Among the returning entertainers are the Wenatchee Youth Circus, the Pirates of the Plateau and Professor Bamboozle. Added to the mix are stunt motorcycle rider Robert Haslam, the Jest in Time circus, Reptile Isle and racing pigs. Kids can enter the popular Mutton Bustin’ competition and most everyone stops to check out the legendary longhorn cattle.
Making a “year two” appearance will be barrel racing, which begins at 1 p.m. July 20 in the rodeo arena. There will be cash prizes on the line for competitors in open, youth and senior divisions.
JUNIOR SHOW MAKES RETURN
Those who have been around Enumclaw for more than a few years might remember when the Junior Livestock Show was big enough to operate independently from any other event. Then it disappeared entirely.
Now, it’s making a return. Participants 19 and younger are getting their steers, goats, lambs and pigs in shape for the show, leading up to Sunday’s sale.
Popke is particularly excited about the Junior Show, noting that its a perfect fit with Enumclaw’s agricultural background while also helping youngsters. “There are life skills attached to raising an animal,” she said.
WHAT ELSE IS COMING?
Also new this year will be an exhibit featuring the history of the local logging and forestry industries, shown through various displays and equipment.
Of course, the fair will include a midway with rides and carnival games, all delivered by Butler Amusements. At the north end of the grounds will be pony rides, the Family Fun Zone and Professor Smart’s Science Show. Retailers and assorted vendors will fill their usual spaces.
New this year, at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, will be a Cowboy Church service delivered by the local Gracepoint Church. The church also will host an 8:30 pancake breakfast.