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It's a Party! ('til the cows come home)
With a few new touches along with the classics, the fair remains poised to please new and old fans.
From animals to food to carnival rides to music, Shari Ioffrida, fair manager, said everything is running smoothly and the fair looks on track for a successful year.
This week exhibitors and vendors checked in, the carnival and campers set up and all of the animals received veterinarian check-ups.
“Everything’s on time and I can’t thank my help enough,” she said.
Despite decreasing attendance the past year of about 2,000 people total, equalling about $9,000 in revenue, Ioffrida finds successes through the numbers.
Usually, attendance is down on Sundays, she said, but the past two years it has risen by more than 1,400 people. She attributes this to a growing following for the Talent & Variety Show going into its third year at 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18.
“The talent show has become a staple on Sundays,” Ioffrida said.
Last year, belly dancing group Shula Azhar won and opens this year’s show for 13 musical and dance groups hosted by Todd Ortloff of KONP.
She’s also added martial artists demonstration team Little Dragons Show at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Other days seem to fall in line dependent on weather and incentives such as Thursday being Kids Day where children 12 and under enter free before 6 p.m.
Fridays are typically down due to work schedules, Ioffrida said, and Saturday is the busiest.
With a slight decrease in attendance, Ioffrida said she works closely on the budget with her supervisors to make it work.
“The fairgrounds actually made more money than we spent last year with income from wedding rentals, special events, horse and RV shows and for dry rental in the offseason for RVs,” she said.
Party with the kids
To grow the fair, Ioffrida said much of that lies with the fair’s Kids Day and Kids Zone.
“We have a lot of new activities for families,” she said. “I like that we have a lot of events that you don’t have to pay extra for, too.”
Along with the usual magic act this year featuring Brian Ledbetter, the fair adds juggling by Roberto the Magnificent throughout the event and a juggling workshop 5 p.m. daily except Sunday.
Rowdy Referees, is a family game show at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. daily, except Sunday, when it’s at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
In the Kids Zone are multiple free activities along with a few paid events like pony rides and rock climbing.
Those who go on Thursday can fill out a booklet for a goodie bag and chance to win a grand prize.
Probably the biggest hit for children are the carnival rides. Today, Wednesday, Aug. 14, is the last day to buy wristbands ($25) before the fair. Ioffrida said she can’t stress enough that people need to buy them before the fair because they won’t be available during it.
Dealers nearly sold all 5,000 wristbands last year. They are available in Sequim at Pacific Mist Books, and several locations in Port Angeles, Forks and Neah Bay.
She said wristbands became so popular at one business that they added extra employees to sell them.
At the grandstand
New this year is Cavallo, a fully choreographed horse riding routine at the grandstands at 3, 5 and 7 p.m. Friday.
Ioffrida said last year they didn’t hold an event at the grandstands on Friday, so she hopes the event is a big draw. Other events there include the 4-H Western Games at 9 a.m. Friday, Logging Show at noon on Saturday, the rodeo at 5 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday, and the the demolition derby at 5 p.m. Sunday.
At the rodeo, a whole new crop of cowboys could compete after the fair joined the Pro-West Rodeo Association.
Ioffrida said she hopes to see new people in the ring and in the bleachers come. “They tend to pull better competitors,” she said.
Changes at the county fair
For three of the four nights, the fair is closing an hour sooner. It opens and closes 8:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday.
“We want to give 4-H kids who get up at 5 a.m. to care for their animals another hour of sleep,” Ioffrida said.
“Vendors can stay open later and the carnival is allowed to sell tickets and give rides up until midnight if there are still customers.”
The typical fair royalty crowning event has changed to a meet-and-greet at 6 p.m. Thursday, too.
Four Sequim girls vied for queen on March 16, but Torrie McIntyre was crowned during a Princess Tea and Coronation with Lily Paulsen, Naomi Gish and Grace Koenigsaecker serving as princesses.
Whether you like or dislike the changes, Ioffrida wants to know via exit surveys at each gate.
Each family who returns one can receive a free ice cream at the Gourmet Grub Kitchen run by the fair board. You also can enter the 2014 fair theme contest at all the gates and the information booth.
Martine Soiseth of Port Angeles won $100, two season passes and two fair shirts for the theme “Party ’til the Cows Come Home.”
Music and entertainment continues everyday at the Wilder Auto Community Stage and the Sunny Farms Center Stage.
Ioffrida said they like to have a variety of bands every year, which features magic, a Tom Petty cover band, fiddlers, a cappella, dancing grandmas, the Aaron Crawford Country Band, juggling and local musicians. Hundreds of people fill the barns with their animals and exhibits from flowers to fiber arts to Lego men. Other notable events include the Junior Livestock Auction at 1 p.m. Saturday in the sheep and swine arena; and the 4-H Kiss the Pig contest at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.