The small town vibes at the Whidbey Island Fair has drawn Ted Webber and Courtney Flora, and their family, back to the Island County Fairgrounds year after year.
The family said the 2017 four-day fair from July 20-23 was no exception. It featured all the same amenities people have come to love, from interaction with animals and 4-H competitions to live music and entertainment.
Even in their eighth year of coming to the fair, they’re reminded of what makes the event at Island County Fairgrounds special to them.
“It’s just fun; we love the animals and the rides,” Flora said as her son Nick, 5, received a free balloon from Jami Stavlo of Evergreen Balloons.
“It’s more intimate,” Webber added.
Saturday’s festivities began with a parade from downtown Langley to the fairgrounds, a highlight for many attendees. Grand marshals Vicki and George Lawson led the way, followed by a long line of floats, people and animals representing different parts of the community. Participants in the parade included the South Whidbey Lions Club, South Whidbey High School’s drama club, the Friends of Friends Medical Support Fund and a truck filled with 2017 Mr. South Whidbey contestants, just to name a few.
Following the parade, hundreds roamed the fairgrounds and bounced from activity to activity. The first thing Matt Mayhew did was take his son Arne to a miniature spinning ride. Mayhew, a Seattle resident, heard about the fair by word of mouth while at a summer home on Whidbey Island with friends and their families.
The daughter of one of Mayhew’s friends, Quinn Bird, 4, said she enjoyed petting horses at the fair.
“They’re really soft,” Bird said.
Seattle residents Cheryl and Mark Brady and their daughter Mabel found out about the fair in a similar way. They were at their summer home in Langley when they saw a sign about the annual event. The family quickly decided to scope things out and were pleasantly surprised by the vibe of the fair.
“We love small town fairs and parades,” Mark Brady said. “They’re fun. They’re very genuine.”
Cheryl Brady added that she likes seeing things in the parade that they normally don’t see in the city, such as horses and tractors. Mabel, 15, also said that she enjoyed the fair because it feels low-key.
While the Bradys experienced the fair for the first time on Saturday, it was the seventh time for Caleb Thompson of Langley. Thompson [no relation to the author] said he has the good fortune of living right down the road from the fairgrounds. He said he too enjoys it for its low-key atmosphere, adding that the crowds aren’t overwhelmingly large.
Thompson’s friend, Joy Broughton, said she enjoys seeing the animals from 4-H in the parade, but fancies one group of animals in particular.
“I always love to see the horses,” Broughton said.
Wyatt Broughton, 6, said he enjoyed riding down the big slide inside the fairgrounds and eating cotton candy. It’s just two of the many things he appreciates about the fair, he said.
“Everything is so fun,” Broughton said.