Island County Fair 2004

Despite a dumping of almost an inch of rain between Saturday and Sunday, Island County Fair organizers say the 2004 edition of the fair otherwise went off without a hitch.

On Monday, Marilyn Gabelein, chairman for the Island County Fair board of directors, said the fair had good attendance even with heavy rain. Official attendance has yet to be tabulated, but estimated Thursday and Friday ticket sales were higher than the typical 6,000-a-day average. She said ticket sales slowed somewhat Saturday and Sunday due to the rain, but she still expected the four-day sales to hit around 24,000 total, about average for the fair.

There was still plenty of fun to be had in the rain. The annual greased-pig contest in the fair arena was made extra slippery due to the rain, while contestants in the log roll at the Bunyon Busters log show could hardly complain: They really couldn’t get any more wet than they were after falling into the deep pond in which the logs were floating.

All the games and contests were more than just fun, at least for the fair management. Gabelein said Carol Hanson, a representative from the Department of Agriculture’s State Fairs Committee, visited the Langley fairgrounds Thursday morning. Inspectors like Hanson visit the fair yearly and determine how much money will be awarded to the fair to give out as premium money, or prizes. The money is then mailed to the fair the following April for the next year’s fair.

In 2003, Gabelein said, the fair secured about $34,000 from the committee for 2004. The money also paid for things like the judges time, ribbons and exhibition games like the logging show. She said Hanson, a resident of Mukilteo, was excited about the things the Island County Fair offered.

“She was very, very impressed,” Gabelein said.

Hanson went through a long checklist when inspecting the fair, noting the number of exhibits offered, the friendliness of participants and the safety and cleanliness of the conditions of the buildings. Every year, the inspector’s favorite aspect of the fair receives the committee’s black and white award: The award went to the horse division this year.

Exactly how much money the Island County Fair will be awarded for the 2005 fair will not be decided until around a month from now, Gabelein said. The premium checks were still being printed on Monday.

Gabelein said a big hit of the fair this year was the debut of alpacas in 4-H competition. In 2003, the alpacas were an exhibit rather part of a judged event.

Coupeville resident Dena Royal, a co-leader of the South Whidbey group Inca Pride Alpacas, said they club members were encouraged by the support for the alpacas. A total of 10 alpacas gave fair-goers a unique experience, and even won the fair parade’s superintendent award.

“They were quite popular,” Royal said. “We’re a young group but we’re still excited.

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