Family Fun Carnival opens at Clark County Fairgrounds

No fair this year, but the traditional carnival will be open for 10 days

RIDGEFIELD — Officially, the Family Fun Carnival opened at 4 p.m. Friday at the Clark County Fairgrounds. A few people, though, just could not wait. 

The Rock Star ride rises high above one of the food carts at the Family Fun Carnival at the Clark County Fairgrounds on Friday afternoon. The carnival will run for 10 days. Photo by Paul Valencia
The Rock Star ride rises high above one of the food carts at the Family Fun Carnival at the Clark County Fairgrounds on Friday afternoon. The carnival will run for 10 days. Photo by Paul Valencia

A handful of thrill seekers walked the grounds of the carnival prior to the start of business, just to soak it all in, to feel the excitement.

Julia “SmileyBear” Schultz was one of them, ready to jump on a ride as soon as she could.

“The sooner the better. You get to go on the rides with no lines,” Schultz said.

Oh, and there was a bigger reason Schultz and others were there so early.

“We just missed it,” she said.

Julia “SmileyBear” Schultz was one of the first thrill seekers to arrive at the Clark County Fairgrounds on Friday, prior to the opening of the Family Fun Carnival. She said she missed not having the carnival last year, and she just had to be one of the first to be there when the carnival returned this year. Photo by Paul Valencia
Julia “SmileyBear” Schultz was one of the first thrill seekers to arrive at the Clark County Fairgrounds on Friday, prior to the opening of the Family Fun Carnival. She said she missed not having the carnival last year, and she just had to be one of the first to be there when the carnival returned this year. Photo by Paul Valencia

For the second year in a row, there is no Clark County Fair in Ridgefield. Last year, of course, there was just nothing to compare to the fair at the fairgrounds.

This year, though, a little piece of fair has been brought back to life. Actually, a big piece of fair life has returned.

While the 2021 fair was called off, Butler Amusements asked event center officials about the possibility of still holding the carnival this year. Sure enough, the state eased some COVID-protocoal restrictions in June, and Butler is holding the carnival from Aug. 6 through Aug. 15.

Schultz, 22, was there as soon as she could be there.

“I love it. It’s one of the things I grew up on. I was looking forward to this,” she said. “It’s good to spend time with people and get out. It’s a time to connect and have a good time.”

Walker Schlappi (left) and Weston Schlappi got in the front row of the Wacky Worm ride at the Clark County Fairgrounds on Friday. Photo by Paul Valencia
Walker Schlappi (left) and Weston Schlappi got in the front row of the Wacky Worm ride at the Clark County Fairgrounds on Friday. Photo by Paul Valencia

Foster Scott and Koen Peters, students from Hockinson High School, jumped on Freak Out right at 4 p.m.

Foster Scott and Koen Peters, students from Hockinson High School, were among the first riders to dare to take on Freak Out at the Family Fun Carnival on Friday afternoon. Photo by Paul Valencia
Foster Scott and Koen Peters, students from Hockinson High School, were among the first riders to dare to take on Freak Out at the Family Fun Carnival on Friday afternoon. Photo by Paul Valencia

“This is my favorite ride. I always go on this ride first,” Scott said. “I just really like going upside down and spinning. It’s really fun.”

This was Peters’ first time on Freak Out.

“I like rides that give you adrenaline and stuff,” Peters said.

Both said they will make it out to the Family Fun Carnival at least two more times during the 10-day run. They are making up for not having much to do last summer.

The carnival features 32 rides, midway games, a fun photo booth, and plenty of carnival-type foods. Deep fried candy bars anyone? Oh yes.

There are the thrill rides for the brave, and several rides for those not brave enough just yet. And some that cater to the middle-of-the-road crowd.

Weston and Walker Schlappi of Woodland were in the front row of the Wacky Worm ride, with their parents Cody and Kristina watching from below. 

“The scariest part is going up to the top,” Walker said. 

“For me, it was when you go far down and do that turn,” Weston added.

Mom and dad were just thrilled to be back at the carnival. They, too, missed not having it in 2020.

“We’re just glad to be here,” Kristina said.

Even without the fair.

“It’s better than nothing, and we’re not wearing masks,” she said. “We’re pretty happy about that.”

Shong Moua, Kimberly Moua, and Ashley Moua got to continue a family tradition. 

“I’m glad it’s back,” Shong said.

“We do this every year,” Ashley said.

Shong Moua, Kimberly Moua, and Ashley Moua, kept the family tradition going, getting a photo to place on a big button at the carnival. Photo by Paul Valencia
Shong Moua, Kimberly Moua, and Ashley Moua, kept the family tradition going, getting a photo to place on a big button at the carnival. Photo by Paul Valencia

No, not just the carnival, but a specific thing to do at the carnival. They go to the photo booth, take a picture, then wear the big button, with the picture. Then they keep the buttons.

“We have a collection, every year,” Kimberly said.

About 45 minutes after opening on Friday, Emily Walker was walking around with a giraffe. It’s possible she was the first big winner of the carnival this year.

Emily Walker and Robert Cortez show off some of their prizes they won Friday afternoon at the Family Fun Carnival. Cortez won the giraffe, and Walker was grateful. Photo by Paul Valencia
Emily Walker and Robert Cortez show off some of their prizes they won Friday afternoon at the Family Fun Carnival. Cortez won the giraffe, and Walker was grateful. Photo by Paul Valencia

She pointed out that her friend, Robert Cortez, actually won the giraffe, making a basketball shot. It is more difficult than it looks. 

He said it felt pretty good to make that shot. After all, he and carnival goers like him did not have a chance to win a prize in 2020.

“I missed it last year,” Cortez said.

Those who missed the carnival made sure to get there early Friday night to start making new memories.

Notes: The Family Fun Carnival is open until 11 p.m. Friday, then from noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. It goes from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday next week, then will go noon until 11 p.m. next Saturday and Sunday. … Parking at the fairgrounds is $6. Costs for rides, food, and midway games vary. For more information, go to: https://www.clarkcoeventcenter.com/events/2021/family-fun-carnival

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