Island County FAir 2004

Barns at the Island County Fair that sat quiet for most of the year are now a bustle of activity as children and adults prepare for the 80th annual Island County Fair.

Under the theme, “Patriotic Pride ~ County Wide,” the annual fair in Langley allows fair-goers to look at some of Island County’s finest animals and agriculture displays, listen to some local and out-of-area music, chow down on all types of food.

And, like every year at the fair, fair-goers can take in a musical show, ride on the Ferris wheel or watch a chain saw cutting contest.

That’s just some of what’s available when the gates open Thursday at 9:30 a.m. at Whidbey Island’s big summer party.

With any luck, the lure of good weather and good fun will bring people back to the fair in big numbers. Fair attendance has fallen off during the past two years, well below the 25,000-ticket benchmark fair organizers try to target. Sandey Brandon, the office assistant to the Island County Fair Association Board of Directors, said 25,000 people are predicted to attend this year’s fair. If that happens, it would top last year’s attendance of 23,642 by more than 1,300.

But even before the first person arrives, however, the fairgrounds will be filled with activity as volunteer workers scramble to get the fair ready.

Paradise Entertainment, which runs the fair carnival, will offer free rides on Wednesday 5-6 p.m. for anyone who donates four cans of food. For the rest of the day, anyone who brings four cans of food can buy 10 rides for $10.

It’s not all fun and games. 4-H participants will be cleaning out barns, tidying up flower beds and roping off stalls. Meanwhile, all over the county, practitioners of the rural lifestyle have been baking pies and cookies, picking the largest flower or apple in their garden, digging up the best zucchini or giving their cattle, goats, sheep, poultry or rabbits one last thorough cleaning. It’s all been done with the hope that judges will deem their prize tomato or well-groomed sheep as the best during Wednesday’s intense contest judging.

Educational displays, fine arts, fair logo, fiber arts, food preservation, junior arts and crafts, needlework, photography, quilting, sewing and wine, beer and cider have already been judged and will also be on display during the fair.

To see the fair’s theme “Patriotic Pride-County wide” in action, reserve a spot for Saturday’s parade. Brandon said about 105 units are signed up for the parade. They include cars, flatbed trucks, carts and clowns, ugly trucks, tractors, fire trucks and antique autos, all of which are encouraged to show the red, white and blue.

The parade line-up starts at 8:30 a.m. in the Visser Funeral Home parking lot. The parade starts at 10 a.m., runs through Langley and the fairgrounds, and finishes at the old bus barn next to Langley Middle School.

Highlights on the entertainment schedule include Whidbey Children’s Theater performances of “ A Tribute to Gershwin” in the Pole Building each day at the fair, and a wide range of musical acts on the Eva Mae Gabelein stage, headlined by Juice Newton, who performs Saturday at 8 p.m..

Of particular interest this year will be an appearance by the Ferndale-based Sardis Raptor Center at the Pole Building, which will display several birds of prey each day through Sunday.

For the rough and ready, the saw dust will fly at the Bunyon Busters Log Show today through Sunday. Power saw bucking, scaling trees, ax throwing and log rolling are just some of the games of logging skill.

To compete in the log show, entrants must first pre-qualify in Thursday’s preliminary show.

For those who prefer a quieter form of entertainment, Fiddle Faddle Farm’s “Let’s Pretend Circus,” will train children selected from the audience to participate in a circus.

In the arena, children will compete in a variety of games, including Mutton Bustin’, in which children compete to find out who can ride a sheep the longest.

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