Fair starts with horses, rides today

The berry preserves started showing up Monday. The carnival rides went up Tuesday. And all the dogs and horses were at the fairgrounds by this morning.

Now if only the Island County Fair staff could find a way to catch all the rabbits running around the fairgrounds, everything would be perfect for this week's fair.

Though the foliage might be a bit nibbled down, the 78th edition of the Island County Fair will start heating up like the weather today. For five days this week, the Langley fairgrounds will be the place to be, to eat and to be seen. And the fun starts today.

Ruth Turner, president of the Island County Fair Board, said preparations have gone smoothly this week thanks to adequate volunteer and hired help.

"We've done real good," she said.

Most of the activities at the fair today revolve around horses. Riders and their animals will start competing in the arena in a number of classes. But for those with a more general interest in the fair, perhaps the most anticipated event of the week happens tonight -- the carnival opens for business. From 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., the rides and fair games will be running under the lights for anyone who wants to get an early start on the fun.

The fair officially opens Thursday with a raft of activities in the arena, animal barns, display areas and on the midway. The first headlining performer, the Pickled Herring Band, takes the midway stage at 7:15 p.m.

The remainder of the weekend is packed with things to do, right up until the fair closes down at 9 p.m. Sunday.

But before the crowds start streaming in, Turner said, she is encouraging anyone who loves rabbits to come to the fairgrounds and catch a rabbit or two. Generally crosses between wild rabbits and escapees from past 4-H displays or Barnyard Scrambles, the animals started running scared from all the set-up activity at the fairgrounds.

The fair opens to the general public at 4 p.m. today. Tickets and passes will go on sale at that time. Admission for adults this year is $6 a day or $18 for the week. Children get in for $4 a day or $13 for a week-long pass.

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