Jefferson County Fair returns with three days of events

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PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County Fair returns for the first time since 2019 this weekend, and while it’s been a challenge to bring things back, organizers say they’re excited about the community’s response so far.

“We have some beloved things that people have really missed with COVID,” said Jefferson County Fair Association fairgrounds manager Danny McEnerney.

“We have an immense amount of horse racing – teenage rope and barrel racing – we’re basically full of horse racing.”

But when organizers began planning for this year’s event, McEnerney said that was no guarantee.

Many of the groups or programs supporting fair events were disrupted by COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and the local 4-H club had only four horses.

“But we’ve had a lot of interest from different horse clubs and people who really want to get involved in supporting horse riding,” McEnerney said.

The outpouring of support from volunteers has been heartening, McEnerney said, with community members showing up to help as much as they can.

The fairground buildings have been unused for three years, McEnerney said, and there have been great efforts to make them clean enough for the fair.

Doors officially open at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but breakfast at the fairground restaurant starts at 7:00 a.m. each day. Doors close at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Most of the fair’s events will be youth-focused, McEnerney said, noting there were a number of “bouncing things” over the three days.

Full-day events each day of the fair include free inflatable games and mechanical bull rides for children, depending on the fair schedule.

Part of the youth focus is a requirement of the funding the fair receives from the state Department of Agriculture, which promotes agricultural fairs statewide.

There are 69 agricultural fairs in Washington state, according to a 2021 Department of Agriculture report on the economic impact of fairs, which indicates that in 2019 the combined economic activity of fairs across of the state generated $397 million in business revenue and $10 million in various state taxes. income.

The fair will feature a number of animal exhibits put on by members of the Jefferson County 4-H Club, a federal youth development program facilitated by local land-grant universities; in the case of Jefferson County, Washington State University Extension.

Animals on display over the three days include cats, rabbits, horses, sheep, pigs, goats, cattle and llamas, but in accordance with a state recommendation, no poultry events will take place this year for the sake of avian diseases such as influenza.

McEnerney said there would be chicks and ducklings at the fair, but no adult poultry.

Along with animal exhibits, the fair will also feature food, crafts, vendors, music and performances by children’s entertainer Professor Bamboozle.

McEnerney said he was happy to see popular events like the draft horse draw and 4×4 mud drives returning. Ticket presales ended on Monday, but McEnerney said the vast majority of sales for the fair were performing at the gates.

“Our vision for our fair parents can sit back and relax and have some ice cream and let their kids run the place while feeling safe,” McEnerney said. “That’s the kind of atmosphere we’re trying to create.”

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Journalist Peter Segall can be reached by email at [email protected]



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