Clark County celebrates its fair

Paul Valencia
Paul Valencia

VANCOUVER — Stephanie Wood and Jeremy Rogers got in line at 8:32 a.m., and they were only the end of that line for a few seconds.

By then hundreds had already been served a free breakfast.

And there were hundreds more in front of them, waiting for their plates.

Sure enough, there would be hundreds behind them.

The 2017 Clark County Fair opens every day at 10 a.m. with the carnival opening at noon each day through Sun., Aug. 13. Photo by Mike Schultz
The 2017 Clark County Fair opens every day at 10 a.m. with the carnival opening at noon each day through Sun., Aug. 13. Photo by Mike Schultz

 

Jeremy Rogers and Stephanie Wood, both of Vancouver, said they love standing in line with so many people for a free breakfast at the opening day of the Clark County Fair. Photo by Paul Valencia
Jeremy Rogers and Stephanie Wood, both of Vancouver, said they love standing in line with so many people for a free breakfast at the opening day of the Clark County Fair. Photo by Paul Valencia

“I debated getting breakfast elsewhere, but it’s exciting to stand in line with so many other people,” Wood said.

“Free admission, too,” Rogers added.

“Free admission is definitely beneficial,” Wood said.

The 149th Clark County Fair opened Friday morning with the now traditional pancake breakfast provided by Fred Meyer.

Plates started being offered just after 8 a.m.

Shane Ellis, one of the dozens of volunteers from Fred Meyer, asked the media not to tell all those in line “that we’re out of pancakes.”

Just his ‘’fair’’ attempt at humor.

Other volunteers wondered how many years they had been doing this? Some five. Others more than 10. They keep coming back.

Said Ellis: “It’s tradition, right?”

The 2017 Clark County Fair got underway Friday. The annual event will continue through Sun., Aug. 13. Photo by Mike Schultz
The 2017 Clark County Fair got underway Friday. The annual event will continue through Sun., Aug. 13. Photo by Mike Schultz

 

A little more than an hour later, the carnival opened for thrill seekers and those in search of stuffed animals. (The carnival opens at noon the rest of the run, while the fair will open daily at 10 a.m.)

A short walk away from the rides, real animals prepared for competition. OK, maybe it was their human handlers who were doing most of the prep work, but it is the animals who are the stars.

Vickie Francks, of Kenmore, Wa., shows off the talents of her dog Haven during the Dock Dogs exhibition. Photo by Mike Schultz
Vickie Francks, of Kenmore, Wa., shows off the talents of her dog Haven during the Dock Dogs exhibition. Photo by Mike Schultz

Summer’s Best Party, as the fair advertises, will be a hot one. The forecast calls for 90-degree days for each of the first seven days of the 10-day run. Jim Beriault, public relations director for the fair, said experts will be there to care for people and animals in dealing with the heat.

In fact, the fair only comes about after months of planning.

Beriault described it like hosting a Thanksgiving dinner. Six hours of cooking for 40 minutes of eating and then five hours of cleanup.

“A lot of preparation goes into the fair that it runs smooth and people get maximum enjoyment out of it,” he said.

Thousands showed up early Friday.

The 149th Clark County Fair opens every day at 10 a.m., with the carnival opening at noon each day, through Sun., Aug. 13. Tickets are $11.25 for adults, $9.25 for seniors and $8.25 for children 7 to 12. Children 6 and under are free. Parking is $6.

For more information: clarkcofair.com

Wood and Rogers, from Vancouver, did not seem to mind the wait for breakfast. In fact, they were happy they got there when they did.

“It’s only going to get worse. I’ve seen the line wrap around the whole fair,” Wood said. “It’s still really early.”

Early?

Try getting up at 4 a.m.

That is what it took for Theresa Anderson of Vancouver to be the first in line. She and her group, a large family that included nine grandchildren, arrived at the fairgrounds at 5:30 a.m.

“It’s kind of like a challenge, to see if we can get there first,” Anderson said.

The Clark County Fair is a destination for many. More than 260,000 are expected to attend this year, Beriault said.

For Anderson, it is a meeting point every summer for her family.

“It’s a tradition. It’s a nice time for the whole family to do something together,” Anderson said. “We’re all going in different directions all the time. This is the one time we’re all together.”

Plus, for a family on a budget, opening day at the fair — free admission, free breakfast — has to be one of the best deals in town.

“Grandma can afford to take all the kids to the fair,” Anderson said, adding that her whole life is focused on her grandchildren.

Still, that’s an early wake-up call, isn’t it?

“It’s no problem waking them up,” Anderson said. “The kids always want to come for the pancakes.”

Members of the 2017 Clark County Fair Equestrian Court sign autographs Friday morning at the Clark County Fairgrounds. Court members shown here are (left-to-right) Princess Laura Ahner, Queen Maddie Gell, and Princess Emily Wagner. Photo by Mike Schultz
Members of the 2017 Clark County Fair Equestrian Court sign autographs Friday morning at the Clark County Fairgrounds. Court members shown here are (left-to-right) Princess Laura Ahner, Queen Maddie Gell, and Princess Emily Wagner. Photo by Mike Schultz

The children are the reason Carolyn Escalera keeps working at the Clark County Fair. Part of the carnival circuit since 1984, she no longer travels but she enjoys her shifts at this fair. She said she has performed all aspects of the carnival, from rides, tickets, games, and food.

“Ever seen a kid’s face after they won a prize? Or after coming off a ride for the first time? That’s what it’s all about,” she said.

The fair is about animals, as well. And arts. Crafts. Games. Food and drink, too.

Another tradition for some is a milkshake from Dairy Women Ice Cream. There are several to choose from, but Pam Ogren of Battle Ground offered this advice:

“Doesn’t matter what the sign says, peach is the only flavor,” she said.

It was an opinion, but said as a matter of fact.

To each their own, right? And at the Clark County Fair, there appears to be something for everyone. Whether you get there early or on your own time.

Summer’s Best Party has started.

For more information, go to www.clarkcofair.com.

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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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