Taking a day to explore the Thurston County Fair is a summer tradition that Heather Short is passing on to her three kids, ages 6, 7 and 9.
She said she’s always enjoyed the fair’s small-town feel and variety of activities.
“Our kids just really enjoy the animals — and, of course, the rides,” said Short, 39, of Lacey, as she waited for her kids to finish rides in the carnival area.
By noon Sunday, the fair was on track to beat last year’s attendance of 33,350 people by about 3,000, said fair coordinator Theresa Reid.
“We’re trending up,” she said. “It’s good.”
The boost in tickets was most likely because of a stronger economy, Reid said.
“People have a little more disposable income,” she said.
Other factors included sunny weather — which always helps the fair attendance — new activities and some additional promotional efforts such as bus advertisements, Reid said.
The fair’s animal barns and show arenas had the most activity throughout the day, with events such as Equine Western Games and the 4-H dog grooming competition.
In the fair’s cattle competition, a 1,500-pound Black Angus named Gohr’s Emulus, or Emmy, won top awards in the FFA show and the adult showmanship contest.
Teresa Smith of Lacey said her son’s 2-year-old cow gets the royal treatment at home.
In fact, she sleeps in a horse stall every night.
“She has a fan in the barn, and if it gets really hot, we have a (water) mister for her,” Smith said. “My husband calls her ‘The Gucci Cow’ because she has more products and has more time spent on her hair than I do.”
Meantime, at the fair’s Author’s Corner, Maureen Bieker, sold and signed copies of her new book, “The Paper Tiger.”
“This is my first public appearance,” said Bieker, 47, of Olympia, who writes under the pen name Mary Ann Baker.
She works in information technology for Thurston County, and spent about three years writing the story about a runaway who joins a circus. The book was released in January by Amazon, and she’s already begun to pen a sequel.
“It’s fiction, but the stories and the subplots, those are things that are in my life,” Bieker said. “It was a story that had to be told — it just had to come out.”