Organizers say the annual event now attracts about 17,000 people over two days – more than double what the attendance was in the early years.
“Our mission is to make sure we have fun things for people of all ages,” event chairwoman Ruth Weigelt said.
Weigelt has been involved in the fair since it began in 1988, and has watched the event expand beyond what she could have imagined. She will serve as grand marshal this year’s parade.
“I have stayed involved because when this comes together, the weekend of, you feel a real sense of community in Lacey,” Weigelt said. “You just feel like you are all there, you are all working to make this big event happen.”
The event works off a budget of about $42,000 that is provided by sponsors and in-kind donations. Despite the ebbs and flows of the economy, Weigelt said the event budget has remained stable.
“We’ve always been able to maintain our funding,” she said. “People have been very supportive.”
With the weather expected to be mild and dry this weekend, organizers are certain there will be a sizable crowd.
To further entice the community, organizers chose to celebrate this year’s milestone anniversary by bringing back an old favorite to the lineup: the grand parade.
The parade started on the fair’s 10th anniversary in 1998. But new businesses and homes built along College Street made the annual parade a logistical nightmare because staging blocked side streets.
“Staging became too difficult, so we moved it for an on-site parade (on the Saint Martins University campus), which we are still continuing to do,” Weigelt said.
The noon walking parade is still on this year, and participants are invited to bring along a hat, costume or musical instrument.
“We’ve added in costumes, but have tried to keep it fairly general so anyone and everyone can participate,” said event coordinator Valerie Fluetsch. “Whether they have a hat or a very elaborate costume, let everybody join in the fun who wants to.”
Courtney Schrieve said Woodland Elementary School is making a 60-foot dragon out of scales the students earned for reading. The dragon will march in the noon parade.
The grand parade will follow at 6 p.m. and feature floats, marching bands and community teams. It will travel a milelong route starting on Pacific Avenue and heading past Saint Martin’s to Huntamer Park.
The flashiest new attraction at the fair will be a 300-foot zipline. “It’s fun for people to scream their way along the parking lot area up high above everyone,” Fluetsch said.
The free zipline starts at a height of 30 feet at the Pacific Avenue end of the university campus.
Many traditional favorites will be back this year, including Kids World in the Marcus Pavilion, featuring 60 vendors with free activities for kids.
Sunday’s car show is expected to bring in classics, hot rods and muscle cars. An open class category show, all makes, models and years are accepted.
Anyone interested in entering a vehicle can do so through the day of the firstname.lastname@example.org 360-754-5476 theolympian.com/thisjustin @chelseakrotzer