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Chicken Olympics takes flight at this year’s fair
LANGLEY — When attendance declined in the poultry barn during last year’s Island County Fair, Superintendent Stinger Anderson had a vision, a blinding revelation of crystal clarity that something had to be done.
Thus was born the International Chicken Olympics, timed to coincide with events in Beijing while tapping into the subconscious desire of fair-goer’s longing for silly chicken tricks.
“There will be bull riding, the Wheel of Doom and the Teeter-Totter of Terror,” Anderson said.
“Yes, indeed. We’re bringing a blue pygmy bull about 6 inches high. At the appropriate moment, the chicken will mount up and then, well, folks will have to stop by and see for themselves,” Anderson explained.
“Last year, there was a loss of interest, and this is a way to get people back into the tent,” he said. “They can check out the new roof while they’re here, as well.”
Anderson and Matt Hoar, aka “Clucky the Clown,” will present three vaudeville-type shows and three chicken Olympic skits each day of the fair, Thursday to Sunday.
“The emphasis will be on fun and education,” Anderson said.
Hoar is a member of the Pure Cirkus ensemble in Seattle; he’s the clown.
“There will be juggling, jokes and a lot of silliness,” Hoar said.
The two have constructed a proscenium stage in the barn to hold their shows, which Anderson labeled the “Clucky Stage — The Sky is Falling.”
Anderson showed off his 2-year-old Black Australorp rooster, Henry. He is master of the roost, caring and sensitive, according to Anderson.
“Why do I love chickens? Well, about the time I realized that dogs don’t lay eggs...”
Even without the crowds, with the 84th Island County Fair just a few days away, there was a real sense of excitement by those getting things ready on Saturday.
Tessa Chiarizio, a freshman at South Whidbey High School in the fall, was applying a fresh coat of paint on the dog kennel.
“I’m with the Canine Dog Club and we want the building to look great,” she said.
Over at the horse barn, sisters Shannon and Nadine Kinske from Clinton were getting their quarter horse, Maddy, used to fair sights and sounds.
“We belong to the Knight Riders horse gaming club,” Shannon said. “This is our first year doing this and we’re pretty excited.”
Nearby, Tina Jarman was preparing to submit her entry for the Arts and Crafts exhibit. Her Moonsnail Cottage contains furniture made from bits and pieces of shells and old bones she’s found on Whidbey beaches and southern California deserts over the years.
Jarman is a paleontologist and a few of the artifacts are millions of years old. She won best of show last year.
“The only thing not handmade is the stove that I fashioned out of an old pencil sharpener,” she said.
Jim Fox had the best view. He was perched high above the fair attaching cross strut supports for the log-climbing contest, part of the Bunyon Buster Log Show.
“He really enjoys his work,” said log-show organizer Albert Gabelein.
“The fair is a lot of work for everyone involved, but it’s the best thing possible for our young people,” said 4-H program coordinator Judy Feldman.
“4-H is all about ‘learning by doing’ and recognizing the role youth play in the health and vitality of our community,” she said.
Feldman said that, new this year, will be an emphasis on raising goats for meat. Because of changing demographics, about 63 percent of the red meat consumed worldwide is goat, she said.
“The demand for goat meat in the United States is so high that producers can’t keep up, and much of the goat meat sold in the United States is imported from New Zealand or Australia,” she said. “About 1.5 million pounds of goat meat is imported every week.”
Yes, but how does goat meat taste?
“The kids will be grilling goat meat and offering samples so fairgoers can check it out for themselves,” Feldman said.
The Island County Fair runs Thursday to Sunday from 8 a.m. until the nightly entertainment concludes.
Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or email@example.com.