This week’s record-breaking heat may have kept some away from the Thurston County Fair, but for most of the fair’s participants, it simply meant doing things a little differently.
“People always seem to find a way,” said Theresa Reid, event coordinator at the fair.
To prepare for Thursday’s 96-degree high temperature — which broke the 1993 record and prompted an excessive heat warning from the National Weather Service — fair board members went to work making misters they found on Pinterest to provide fair-goers with some relief.
They also purchased box fans and an air conditioner, and rescheduled many animal events to cooler parts of the day.
“We don’t do (hot) weather well,” Reid said. “We’re Washingtonians.”
Washingtonians aren’t the only ones who have a hard time dealing with the heat. Adjustments also had to be made for the fair’s four-legged attendees. Pigs enjoyed misters in their pens, goats were adorned with mesh cooling blankets, and bovines lounged in the airstream of industrial fans.
Hot weather can affect animals’ milk-production, though 4H Goat Division Superintendent Rodney Chapman said it’s easily prevented by keeping them cool and hydrated. Chapman installed misters above the goats’ stalls to help keep them cool, and said that milk production wasn’t an issue for goats at the Thurston County Fair.
Likewise, the Northwest’s recent dry spell didn’t prevent 4H gardeners from presenting their bounty, including a selection of hydrangeas, a flower variety so dependent on moisture that its name comes from the Greek “hydro,” meaning water.
“I think you just have to be very consistent with your watering,” said Norma Martin, member of the Olympia Garden Club.
Despite the sunny outlook, some fair events were negatively affected by the heat.
The chocolate cake contest, which began accepting entries at noon Thursday and was judged at 2 p.m., saw just three contestants this year. That’s down even from last year, when the weather was similar and four people entered the contest. Contest judge Tom Spengler said it was a significant decrease from years past.
Reid thinks the heat is to blame.
“Nobody wants to bake in the heat,” Reid said.
But it didn’t stop Tahlia Summers. The 14-year-old winner of the chocolate cake contest youth division, who also won last year with her first-ever entry, plans to enter Friday’s cookie contest and Sunday’s cupcake contest as well.
The versatility that saw the Thurston County Fair through the thick of the heatwave is exactly what Summers likes best about baking.
“You can do an unlimited amount of things,” Summers said. “You can just put things together and hope that they work.”
Thurston County Fair
The fair offers everything from popular local musicians to agricultural education and old-fashioned fun.
When: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday
Where: Thurston County Fairgrounds, 3054 Carpenter Road SE, Lacey
Tickets: $7 general admission, $6 for ages 60 and older, $5 for ages 6-14, free for children 5 and younger.
Parking: $5 to park at the fair, free to park at Woodland Elementary School, 4630 Carpenter Road SE, or the North Thurston Bus Barn, 6620 Carpenter Road SE, and ride a shuttle to the gate.
More information: 360-786- 5453, co.thurston.wa.us/fair/
Also: Open-toed shoes or sandals aren’t allowed on the rides.