Clark County Fair under the lights

The lights and the vibe are special at the Clark County Fair. One fairgoer said she feels like she is in a movie when she comes to the fair at night. Photo by Paul Valencia
The lights and the vibe are special at the Clark County Fair. One fairgoer said she feels like she is in a movie when she comes to the fair at night. Photo by Paul Valencia

“You feel like you are in a movie’

RIDGEFIELD — Officially, the Clark County Fair ended its 10-day run at 10 p.m. Sunday night.

Yeah, right.

“We close at 10 p.m, but they go until they don’t,” a fair employee was overheard saying at around 10:15 p.m.

That would be the Butler Amusements Carnival. 

This photo was taken after 10 p.m. Sunday, after the Clark County Fair officially closed. There was no evidence that this party was going to end any time soon. The carnival stayed open late. Photo by Paul Valencia
This photo was taken after 10 p.m. Sunday, after the Clark County Fair officially closed. There was no evidence that this party was going to end any time soon. The carnival stayed open late. Photo by Paul Valencia

Lines were long for all the rides, and prizes were still being won at the fair’s closing time. There was no evidence of it ending any time soon.

At 9:55 p.m., thrill-seekers who exited the Freak Out ride said they were in line for more than an hour. The line was still that long.

The return of the Clark County Fair, anecdotally speaking, was a success. Big crowds on opening day. And a huge crowd all the way until the end on Sunday night. Fair officials told Clark County Today on Monday that it would be a few days before they could release official attendance numbers. 

The Rock Star ride was a big hit at the Clark County Fair. Many people said they love coming to the fair at night, to see the lights, and escape the summer heat. Photo by Paul Valencia
The Rock Star ride was a big hit at the Clark County Fair. Many people said they love coming to the fair at night, to see the lights, and escape the summer heat. Photo by Paul Valencia

Judging from Sunday night, those officials are going to be happy when they get those numbers.

At 7:45 p.m., drivers were still searching for parking spots.

At 8 p.m., there was a line in front of the ticket booth outside of the fair.

And once inside the Clark County Fairgrounds, more long lines. For food. For drinks. For rides.

Nobody, it seemed, wanted it to end.

Byrce Devlin and Italy Munson-Curl of Washougal showed up at around 8 p.m.

“He said it’s better at night,” Munson-Curl said, noting this was the first time she had ever come to the fair.

The lines were not long just for the rides. The food court was packed all Sunday night and so, too, was the line at the Clark County Dairy Women barn. Milkshakes and ice cream please. Photo by Paul Valencia
The lines were not long just for the rides. The food court was packed all Sunday night and so, too, was the line at the Clark County Dairy Women barn. Milkshakes and ice cream please. Photo by Paul Valencia

Devlin had been to the fair a few times in previous years, but this was his first trip to the fair this year. He had two hours of official fair time to explore, but as noted, it did not really close at 10 p.m.

“The lights are on, and it’s just a lot better,” Devlin said.

Plus, it is cooler, he said. It is easier to stand in line, move around, when the sun is not so high in the sky.

“One of our friends wanted to come during the last day,” said Elvis Rivera of Vancouver, who showed up around 8:20 p.m. “We’re going to do as much as we can.”

There was a line to buy tickets to get into the fair at 8 p.m. on Sunday. The Clark County Fair officially closed at 10 p.m., but folks still did not mind paying to experience the final hours. Photo by Paul Valencia
There was a line to buy tickets to get into the fair at 8 p.m. on Sunday. The Clark County Fair officially closed at 10 p.m., but folks still did not mind paying to experience the final hours. Photo by Paul Valencia

Dev Graham and Hannah Worden texted each other in the evening and decided to take in the last hours of the fair, too. They are from Portland. They arrived in Ridgefield around 8:25 p.m.

“I thought it would be really pretty at sunset,” Graham said.

“Gotta make the most of it,” Worden added.

Not everyone was riding rides, playing games.

One of the most popular attractions during the 10-day run is Dock Dogs. People are awestruck watching dogs sprint off a stage and catch some big air into a swimming pool. Dock Dogs had its last show at 5 p.m. Sunday.

But the hard work was just getting started.

The line for the swing of YoYo was more than 45 minutes long as the sun set at the Clark County Fair. Thrill seekers did not seem to mind, though. Photo by Paul Valencia
The line for the swing of YoYo was more than 45 minutes long as the sun set at the Clark County Fair. Thrill seekers did not seem to mind, though. Photo by Paul Valencia

Kevin Gillingham of Utah and Bandon Gonzalez of California were busy in the 8 o’clock hour taking down the stage and the pool.

The teardown, Gillingham said, which includes the draining of the pool, can take five to six hours. The stage transforms into a trailer and is ready to go to the next city on the schedule.

Gillingham’s next work gig for Dock Dogs is in Montgomery, Ala. But this Dock Dogs trailer will eventually make its way to Walla Walla for an event later in the month.

Back to the fun, folks took advantage of the last chance to get fair food. The food court was packed with diners at the 9 o’clock hour. The Clark County Dairy Women ran out of vanilla shake mix, but the line was constant throughout the evening, anyway. There was still chocolate mix, after all, and plenty of varieties of ice cream.

The carnival at the Clark County Fair remained open long after the official closing time. There was a special vibe, fairgoers said. Photo by Paul Valencia
The carnival at the Clark County Fair remained open long after the official closing time. There was a special vibe, fairgoers said. Photo by Paul Valencia

There was no announcement in the carnival area at 10 p.m. letting people know the fair had closed. 

Many food vendors remained open, as well, past closing time.

And the carnival was still going strong at 10:20 p.m. when this reporter headed home.

Earlier in the evening, Anna Solovyeva of Vancouver and Maria Zosim of Ridgefield gave their reasons for showing up on the last night of the fair.

It just feels magical.

“It’s all the lights, man. It’s all the lights. It’s beautiful. It just has a very movie-like atmosphere,” Solovyeva said. “You feel like you’re in a movie. Good vibes.”


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