‘Banner year’ at Lakefair

olympia: Annual 5-day festival benefits from decent weather, good crowds

ckrotzer@theolympian.comJuly 23, 2012 

Sporadic rain showers didn’t seem to bother those attending the final day of Capital Lakefair on Sunday afternoon.

Organizers said this was a “banner year” for the five-day festival at Heritage Park and other downtown Olympia venues.

The weather remained mostly sunny and warm, contributing to tens of thousands taking the time to taste the variety of fair food and test their bravery on carnival rides.

“We had good crowds, and all concessions made it above last year,” said Don Gibson, chairman of concessions for Lakefair. “Even the carnival folks did good.”

Gibson attributed the apparent success to the influx of volunteers. The annual festival had financial problems in the past, which have since been turned around thanks to the community’s help.

More volunteers will need to step up to make the fair continue.

“We need more younger people to take over,” said Gibson, 75.

Shawn Pacheo of Olympia has volunteered at the Olympia Kiwanis Club concession stand for decades, selling roast beef sandwiches.

The stand had an average year for customer traffic, he said.

“I just love the people,” Pacheo said. “You see new friends and old friends.”

Just across the way volunteers at the Saint Martin’s Alumni Association stand could barely keep up with orders all weekend.

On Thursday they went through 1,500 pounds of potatoes for curly fries, serving only burgers for the last two hours of the fair.

“It’s crazy,” said Mike Halliday, the alumni group’s concessions chairman for 10 years. “It’s probably the biggest year I can remember. Just nonstop.”

They weren’t the only ones running out of food. Gibson said there also was a shortage of elephant ears and ice.

New to the food circuit this year was a yakisoba stand, offering lemonade and noodles, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 318 selling strawberry shortcake to the masses.

“Most of everyone else have been here for a long time,” Gibson said.

All food vendors were representing local nonprofits, Gibson said.

A favorite fair food of Tanya Wambold of Tenino was nowhere to be found Sunday afternoon.

“Every year I come for the deep-fried cauliflower,” Wambold said.

She came to the fair with her husband, Steve, and 4-year-old daughter, Jette.

“I like ferris wheel,” Jette said, giggling.

Gibson said there weren’t any major issues that he was aware of this year, outside of a few attendees suffering from dehydration on the warmer days.

Olympia police Lt. Ray Holmes said there weren’t any major incidents involving law enforcement as of Sunday afternoon.

The department had six officers patrolling downtown and Lakefair on the weekdays, along with six Washington State Patrol troopers on bicycles. Even more officers were brought in on the weekend and during the parade Saturday.

“It was a pretty good year,” Holmes said. “We had a couple calls and busy activity afterward on Friday and Saturday night downtown at the bars. There were a lot of folks downtown.”

Crews will be on site early today to tear down the fair.

“It takes four days to set up and only one day to take it down,” Gibson said. “And it’s been a banner year as far as I am concerned.”

ckrotzer@theolympian.com 360-754-5476 theolympian.com/thisjustin @chelseakrotzer

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