With all the condemnation BSâ€™ing going around the South End, it seems time to take the advice of longtime local (since 1950) observer Betty Leyman: â€œOpen your eyes and ears.â€
So, here we go, with a bit of info about the county commissioner appointed and elected members of our Island County Fair Board who volunteer hundreds of hours year round, not to be criticized, condemned and chastised, but to get the job done.
Who are these volunteers and what do we know about them?
Just like we did in homeroom, let us introduce the players in alphabetical sequence.
Please stand for applause after I read your name.
Sally Berry: A multi-decade fair volunteer, now president of the Fair Association; first-place winner besting 20 sharpshooter guys at the recent Annie Oakley Trap Shoot at the Holmes Harbor Rod & Gun Club; chef extraordinaire, even on a fishing boat; co-owner and operator of the Wienie Wagon which serves nutritious chow at cheap prices to our 4-Hâ€™ers and Whidbey Western Games kids at our fairgrounds during their weekend shows.
Come see and hear featured soloist Sweet Sally sing Willie Nelsonâ€™s â€œCrazyâ€ in her own unique way â€” in shorthand â€” about 3 p.m. Friday afternoon, Aug. 18 on the Eva Mae Gabelein Midway Stage, with Swing Again Jazz.
Bill Caruthers: Active in Kiwanis and the Republican Party, Bill prides himself in being the only man who mans a cash register at our annual Fairgrounds Country Christmas. Billâ€™s analytical mind and well-spoken words are a daily blessing to our community as he continues to choose harmony over hearsay.
Jon Gabelein: If you do not recognize this young manâ€™s last name, you may not have been here long. Our fair flows deep within Jonâ€™s gene pool.
Jonâ€™s blood type is 4-H. His eyesight is Island County Fire District 3 20-20.
His heart is tattooed on family, friends, and all the kids he mentors at Big Bro/Big Sis. Jon also supervises the annual ICFA scholarship award competition.
Tarey Kay: With more than 15 yearsâ€™ experience in 4-H leadership, Tarey continues to be a role model for our board, her family and our community. Daughter Molly coordinates fair premium checks, friend Dena oversees cash register compliance, son K2 is our computer guru, while husband and father Gary, retired from the Air Force, keeps our fairgrounds maintained in exemplary fashion.
Lynda Knapp: When she is not RNâ€™ing her many patients at Home Place in Oak Harbor, Lyndaâ€™s volunteer activities include serving as co-leader of the Knight Riders 4-H Horse Club. Lynda also pays for horse maintenance so that kids without horses get to ride every year.
M. Dan Ollis: Despite what you may have seen or heard about Dan not always immediately responding to local reporters inquiries about the impact of eminent domain easements, this busy entrepreneur has a real reason. Heâ€™s going to be a dad!
Before meeting his lovely Mrs. Right, Dan got his start in the food and coffee business with a cart outside Payless and at the Island County Fair years ago, possibly even before he had facial hair. Dan has been paying the community back ever since with innumerable hours of talent and dedication to our Island County Fair traditions.
And if some of our local reporters think Whidbey Coffeeâ€™s founder Dan is busy now, wait until next month about fair parade time when he officially becomes a daddy. This celebratory event may make Danny late for his latte.
Barbara Pearson: Thank goodness this lady showed up. Barb was secretary to the planning commission in Bellingham and a 20-year U.S. Navy vet who, among other tasks, did sexual harassment training of officers in the wake of the Tailhook scandal.
Barb, also an established artist, was appointed to take the Oak Harbor representative position on the fair board last January, offering our fair a much-needed north end presence and a keen understanding of land use and abuse.
Buzz Strout: Buzz and Margie first came to an ICFA meeting right after our 2000 fair, having thoroughly enjoyed a sunny afternoon of big band music while dancing on the midway to Dick Tilkinâ€™s Generation Gap. Our beloved Eva Mae Gabelein talked these cute jitter buggers into taking over our kiddie games at the Fiddle Faddle Farm, named years ago by Wanda and Paul Greene, Whidbeyâ€™s first state trooper.
Thanks also to three of Wanda and Paulâ€™s sons, Damian (Farmersâ€™ Insurance), Terry ( Nichols Bros.) and Mark (Island County), who continue their parentsâ€™ community involvement on many levels.
Kudos also to Buzz who recently moved onto the fair board where he patiently adds his sparkle, his wit and an occasional melodious tune from Peg Fosterâ€™s Swing Again Jazz Band.
Tom Talbot: The epitome of a real helpful hardware man, Tom naturally works at Ace. He is also an active member of several service organizations and has been instrumental in getting our Deer Lagoon Grange to take over as fruits and vegetable superintendents for 2006.
Always with a smile and always willing to lend a hand, Tom is an asset beyond compare.
I sure hope that â€œassetâ€ is not hyphenated here or Tom might think I had the wrong idea.
Klaas Zuiderbaan: Never too old for hard work, Klaas is proud to be of the old school, working diligently daily, and, unlike most road crews, whether anyone is watching or not.
Klaas and pal Sally Berry run the Wienie Wagon, haul trash, clean the HOPE Building, and join most any team that needs them, as long as you donâ€™t tell them how to vote.
You can often see Klaas volunteering, out many weekends at our fairgrounds, sitting atop his trusty tractor, dragging the arena like a mine sweep to keep it nice for horses and riders, two of whom include his daughter Lori and his talented granddaughter whose name Iâ€™ll remember right after this goes to press.
And if you were wondering, Klaas stills likes his eggs poached his style; hardheaded and softhearted.
So, there you have them. A 10-pack of dedicated volunteers who help put on Island Countyâ€™s biggest party, the Island County Fair, for over 80 years held the third week of August.
This year is no exception, Aug. 17-Aug. 20, a Thursday through Sunday curly fry/cotton candy/corn-on-the-cob family memory feast.
From what I have seen and heard, your Island County Fair Board has no hidden agendas.
From what I hear tell, your Island County Fair Board is not comprised of wolves in sheepâ€™s clothing but unpaid, under appreciated volunteers who know, like any smart sheep, when they are about to be fleeced.
Ask these folks what they know.
Ask these folks what they donâ€™t know.
Ask them if they can use your help putting on The Party.
Itâ€™s not my fair or their fair or your fair, itâ€™s our fair.
Shall we use it or lose it?