The Northwest Washington Fair will be back Aug. 12 after being canceled last year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
On March 23, 2020, Gov. Jay Inslee announced a statewide stay-at-home order to fight the spread of COVID-19. The order would lead to the cancellation of events like the fair.
Scott Korthuis, mayor of the city of Lynden, expressed through an email interview how disappointing it was for the fair to be canceled, not just for himself but also for the community.
“The fair promotes our agricultural roots,” Korthuis said. “It has a broad impact on the community as 4H’ers, Future Farmers of America groups and adult farmers all come together to display animals, produce and other results of farming in their area of expertise.”
Monica Montelongo, a yearly attendee of the Northwest Washington Fair, felt a similar disappointment.
“It was so upsetting,” Montelongo said. “It felt unreal because the fair is something everyone looks forward to each year.”
Stacy Van Horne, public relations manager for the Washington State Fair in Puyallup, said, the fair has an impact on the community in various ways. It is a place for families to have fun. It also creates opportunities for local vendors to stay in business while supplying thousands of jobs in the community.
“The fair touches everyone.” said Chris Pickering, CEO of the Northwest Washington fair, “We have a local nonprofit where the fair is their only fundraiser. We have local businesses where they make a lot of their profit. We have local volunteer groups where they come to do table washing or park cars, and they could not do that. Everybody was affected economically.”
Due to COVID-19, this year’s fair will have extra hand-washing stations, Pickering said. Sanitizing sprays will also be applied to rides, bleachers and grandstands.
Pickering said there are many things to look forward to such as a 10-day fair in comparison to the usual six, starting Aug. 12.
Another addition will be a contactless payment system called “BlastPass” for all food and beverages sold at the fair. Customers will be able to get a free wristband or card to load cash on, so they can pay at any 12 food locations, Pickering said.
The fair offers a season pass that will only cost $35; the season pass will allow customers to attend all 10 days of the fair, Pickering said.
This year, there will be five stages for free entertainment, compared to the standard three stages. Pickering said The Canine Stars, a stunt dog and diving show currently featured on America’s Got Talent, will be performing on one of those stages all 10 days of the fair.
While the fair was canceled, safe COVID-19 events were organized to give the community something to do during the pandemic, Horne said.
Pickering said he was happy with the success of creating virtual competitive exhibits that allowed for the community to compete as they would in an in-person fair but virtually.
Participants of the virtual competitions submitted online showcases depending on which category they were in. Categories included animals, plants, and art and crafts, Pickering said.
“Thanks to sponsorships in the community we were able to provide premiums for every entry, so that was a $25 cash prize for everybody that entered,” Pickering said.
Events like these allowed people to still be engaged and have hope for the fair to come back as soon as possible, Pickering said.
The Washington State Fair had constant conversations with the state about clearance for fairs to come back, Horne said. Washington state reopening on June 30 was the final stamp of clearance, she said.
Pickering said he is proud that there is an emphasis on including all community cultures within the fair; whether Hispanic, Canadian or other communities, all are welcome.
Horne expressed excitement to open the gates of the fair for families and generations to make memories that they will not forget.
“Our theme this year is ‘experience,’” Pickering said. “There is no right way to do the fair, but there is so much to do, we got something for everyone."
Juan Baldovinos Jr. is a senior at Western Washington University, majoring in Journalism in the News/ Editorial BA program. Juan is a part of The Front and focuses on news occurring in Whatcom County. When not reporting Juan enjoys spending time with his family, and watching sports. Juan has goals to be a sports journalist. You can contact Juan at firstname.lastname@example.org