As local as it gets: the San Juan County Fair

Horse competitions. Carnival rides. Corn dogs. Rabbit races.

August has arrived and opening day of the San Juan County Fair is today. Its four-day run starts Aug. 14 at the fairgrounds in Friday Harbor.

This year’s theme is “Footloose at the County Fair.” We think that most fair-goers carry home in their gift bag of memories something more than a day’s worth of enjoyment of the endearing spectacle of activity, entertainment and exhibits.

That something is a sense of community.

The fair offers each of us an opportunity to discover and admire the creativity, passion and enterprise of our neighbors. It’s a time when we play together, compete against one another, cheer each other on, and celebrate the achievements of friends, neighbors and islanders that we have yet to meet. This annual county-wide event grounds us in a way that no other occasion does.

Plus it’s a great bargain.

Adults can purchase a season pass for $22, which equates to $5.50 per day for admission; seniors get a $4 discount, and the cost of a season pass for children ages 5-16 is just $10. Children under five get in for free. On “Kids Day,” children can climb aboard as many amusement rides as they can stomach, from noon to 5 p.m., Thursday and Friday, for $22.

Islanders are not alone in their appreciation of the fair. While its heart and soul is rooted in community, the San Juan County Fair has become increasingly popular with visitors as well. Of the 20,000 or so people who attend the festivities, around 10 percent live outside the county.

So we hope to see you wandering through the fair booths, fingers sticky from caramel popcorn and hay stuck to the soles of your shoes.