Thurston County Fair opens on Wednesday and continues through Sunday. Here’s what you need to know:
1. There’s a new facility: A new building with bathrooms and showers is now open at the campground near the horse barns. The $100,000 building was paid for with a Department of Agriculture grant, money raised by the nonprofit Thurston County Fair Foundation, and private donations.
2. Weather plays a factor: The forecast calls for triple-digit temperatures during the fair’s run.
“The weather appears to be even hotter than in 2015,” said Joshua Cummings, the county’s economic development manager who oversees the event.
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Fair attendance typically hovers around 30,000 people, but in 2015 it was closer to 25,000 people, he said.
County workers have purchased 12 box fans, an air conditioner and some mist-making systems for this year’s fair, Cummings said.
"Misters are being install throughout the fairgrounds, tents are being used to provide shade where possible, and the animal shows that had been scheduled for the heat of the day have been moved to earlier or later times whenever possible,” said fair coordinator Theresa Reid.
The floral building is air conditioned, and fairgoers can always hit the food row for shaved ice, cider slush-drinks and cold lemonade.
“You can actually beat the heat at the Thurston County Fair,” Cummings said.
3. It’s your tax dollars at work: The Thurston County Commissioners allocated $134,000 to operate the 2017 fair, Cummings said.
The five-day run typically brings in about $200,000 in revenues, netting $60,000 to $80,000 a year, he said.
4. It’s not too late to get involved: The fair has several games and competitions that are open to the public, including watermelon eating and hula hooping.
“All of these games and contests are free,” Reid recently told The Olympian. “We want everyone to be able to participate in something.”
To learn more about the contests and games, go to www.co.thurston.wa.us/fair/.
5. There’s more at play than the fair: In April 2016, the Board of County Commissioners changed the fairgrounds’ name to the Thurston County Fairgrounds and Event Center to drum up more rentals.
Eventually, the county would like to expand RV camp sites so that they could be rented year round, Cummings said.
“We’re thinking of building access to Long Lake,” he said.
In 2015, the main buildings were used on 223 days, down from 260 days in 2012. Revenuewise, the county has averaged about $159,000 a year in rent since 2013, but that’s down from $182,506 in 2012, according to The Olympian archives.
Rental figures for 2016 and the first half of 2017 were not immediately available.