CLARK COUNTY, Wash. — At the Clark County Fair, absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder, according to longtime fair manager and CEO John Morrison.
“It was a two-year hiatus with the COVID. For something that a lot of people don't think is a big event it's amazing what two years without a fair has done — this year has been an absolutely fantastic response from the public,” said Morrison on Friday morning.
Morrison said they planned for the best fair possible, and it's paid off. People came out early on Friday, lining up for carnival tickets before noon as the fair went into its final weekend.
“We were really excited to be back. I grew up doing 4-H and so we were here all the time, and so it’s really fun to bring (the kids) now that they’re bigger and they can really remember it,” said Allison Meade of Ridgefield, who was there with another mom and their kids.
Along with the rides there are some pretty fun traditions. One of the newer ones, the dog pond-jumping competition drew a good crowd.
Of course, fairs started with roots in agriculture — with Clark County's beginning in 1868. And the 4-H and Future Farmers of America exhibits and competitions have a long history here.
It's 12-year-old Blue Bilik's first time, bringing a pig from Yacolt to show.
“I think it’s really amazing with all these pigs around you get to see other people’s pigs and how they do,” said Bilik.
Beyond the pigs is the dairy barn, and an older hand at all this; Jaime Evers of White Water and Ankeridge Farms is in her early 20s and has been here before.
“It’s my favorite fair … the people up here, every exhibiter in the barn is incredible. Not just us, every person is so helpful, and we just love our cows,” said Evers.
And then there is the fair cuisine, sometimes grilled up and sometimes shaken. The milk shakes from Clark County Dairy Women are back, delivered today by volunteer pageant and scholarship organizations.
“You have people who have been like, ‘I have been waiting for a peach milkshake for three years’ — they are so ready to be back and it is so fun to give them what they’ve been missing as well,” said volunteer Teri Le.
Whatever you may enjoy, people are coming out to get it, into the final weekend. Maybe more than ever.
"When you move the needle at a fair it’s a small move, when you see things that are 20 and 30% more, something’s out there happening very very good and I think this fair is going to prove that,” said Morrison.
KGW did ask about staffing the fair. Like a lot of industries, Morrison said that it has been more challenging. There was a lot of last minute hiring, and they are running with fewer workers, but they are certainly managing.
The Clark County Fair runs through Sunday, August 14. It's motor sport weekend, with tuff trucks and monster trucks to finish off the entertainment.