San Juan County Fair comes when we need it most

It seems like the San Juan County Fair always comes just when we need it most. With elections behind us and before us, with summer racing by and a school year racing toward us, with school district budget woes following us and a county budget crisis lurking in the shadows, we need the fair.

This annual event grounds us. It brings us home to what’s most important: Our shared identity and our sense of community. It’s a time for us to play together, to be creative, and to compete as well as cheer for our neighbors. It’s a time for us to take comfort that we can still produce sustenance from the soil. All of it plays out at the San Juan County Fair.

Appropriately, the theme of this year’s fair, which begins its four-day run today, is “The Heart of the Islands.” Some 22,000 people attend the annual fair and enjoy four full days of excitement, entertainment and friendly competition.

There are some new features at this year’s fair. The Town of Friday Harbor’s 100th birthday celebration kicks off today and continues with a year of events that conclude at the fair in 2009. Be sure and visit the special Centennial Exhibit in the Triangle Exhibit Area in front of the main arena.

Kids Day is two days again this year. On Thursday and Friday, children can ride all the rides they want from noon to 5 p.m. for $20.

Speaking of rides, two big favorites are back: The Zipper and the bumper cars, along with all the other fantastic rides. There are plenty of “kiddie” rides too.

The fair’s stages will feature the best of local entertainment, as well as two special headliners this year: Goldy McJohn & Friendz, led by a founding member of Steppenwolf; and the Freak Mountain Ramblers, whose roots in the alternative music scene date back 40 years.

Once again, 4-H members will command the spotlight, as they deserve. Most 4-H’ers spend the year preparing for the fair, producing arts and crafts, preserving food, growing crops, honing their horseback riding and photography skills, and spinning and weaving. There are about 40 4-H categories.

County fairs have always been showcases of our talents, our progress, our innovation. Don’t miss the islands’ best this year.

The Sounder and Journal publishes The Daily Fair, covering each day’s highlights and thrills. Pick one up beginning today at The Sounder/Journal booth in the main exhibit hall or at the fair gate.

Richard Walker, Editor, San Juan Journal