Lifestyle

Whidbey fair celebrates 90th, bids farewell to an old friend

Hunter Newman rides his horse Charm during the 4-H arena demonstrations on Saturday. - Kate Daniel / The Record
Hunter Newman rides his horse Charm during the 4-H arena demonstrations on Saturday.
— image credit: Kate Daniel / The Record

The county fairgrounds were abuzz with excitement Saturday morning as island residents prepared for the Whidbey Island Area Fair’s annual parade and the third day of festivities.

Amidst the group of community members, which included a dyed-pink and purple pony, a banana-carting gorilla and numerous enthusiastic candy-catching children, was Scott Frederickson, a man who, for over six years, has warmly greeted countless fairgoers, most of whom likely never knew his name. Though he may not have performed beneath the lights of the Eva Mae Gabelein Stage or championed an event in the arena, his work as the stalwart guardian of the fairgrounds, and its rabbits, make him a behind-the-scenes star of the Whidbey Island Area Fair.

Frederickson was responsible for keeping the fairgrounds operative, maintained and safe for over six years before he was forced to resign in order to care for his ailing father.

“I wouldn’t have left this job if my dad hadn’t called me up and asked me to come take care of him,” he said. “But he’s my dad. I didn’t really have to think about it.”

Lori Metcalf, one of Frederickson’s coworkers, expressed her gratitude for Frederickson, adding that he had been nicknamed Good Scott.

“This man is the hardest working man I have ever, ever met,” she said. “I would hire this man in a second.”

Indeed, Frederickson has proven himself irreplaceable. His successor failed to meet expectations and was employed briefly before organizers asked Frederickson if he might be willing to come to the rescue in the final few weeks prior to the fair.

While attendees chowed down on elephant ears and ice cream cones, enjoyed the thrill of the Zipper or ascended the Ferris Wheel, or crooned over the sight of two 2-week-old baby goats, Frederickson made his rounds, ensuring that everything remained in top shape.

For a time, Frederickson lived on the property, keeping watch and enjoying the tranquility of the grounds which were, most of the time, fairly peaceful.

He shared a trailer with his black rabbit, Shadow, whom he describes as very smart, and a wonderful pet.

The rabbit, like the fairground itself, almost seems to exist in a sort of symbiosis with Frederickson. He saved Shadow, who was smaller than the length of Frederickson’s palm at the time, from a dog’s hungry grasp. Though he tried eventually to set her free, she resisted and elected to remain in his care, venturing out periodically with an eye kept on her friend and home.

Frederickson noted that while he enjoys the work he does at the fairgrounds, he has relished the appreciation he received from coworkers since day one of his employment.

“The thing that makes it really nice to work here is anybody who is involved with anything that goes on at the fairgrounds always makes me feel really appreciated. That makes a world of difference when you have to get up and go to work in the morning,” he said.

He noted that he had spent 29 years working as a mechanic at a Lincoln car dealership, but never experienced the same positivity and thankfulness.

Frederickson’s care seemed to be reciprocated over the weekend as fairgoers enjoyed 4-H displays and rides from the fair’s new carnival provider.

“Since I moved to Ellensburg, I’ve been trying not-too-hard to find a job because when I left here I told them I’d like to try to come back for about two weeks at fair time to try and help out,” he said. “I wasn’t really expecting to come back for as much time as I had,” he said with a chuckle.

When someone does take his place, Frederickson said, he expects he will still be needed around fair time in order to teach the newcomer “everything it takes to put this place together.”

“Right now I think I probably know more about this property than anybody else, and I know what I have to do to build the fair. Right now I hope I can come back and help out and teach somebody else what they need to do,” he added. “I enjoy it. I always enjoyed my job here.”

Along with Shadow, Frederickson is taking with him many fond memories.

“He loves this place,” said Metcalf.

 

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