A local author, dressed as a duck, helped people get excited about the upcoming Thurston County Fair on Friday when she shared stories from her book on fair history and memories.
Ann Shipley, the author of “Memories: The History of the Thurston County Fair,” told a small group gathered at the Lacey Timberland Library Friday that the fair has created some strange categories for exhibitions and competitions over the decades. Among the entries: an 800-pound bar of soap and a 17-foot-long blackberry branch.
Dolores Olson, from Olympia, said she finds the fair’s history very interesting. Her family participated in 4-H for many years, she said, and it was a great learning experience.
Shipley, a longtime Fair Board member and volunteer, said she decided to write her book on the fair eight years ago when the Fair Board wanted to learn more about the fair’s past. She said she found the first local newspaper reports on the fair in 1871.
She said the fair began at Columbia Hall, which is now home to a tavern, and has been at 17 different locations since then. And the fair’s exhibitions and competitions have morphed throughout its almost 200-year history. She laughed while explaining the title of one category: “1,000 things that must be seen to be appreciated.”
Now the fair is looking to adapt even further with new categories and games. For example, it intends to offer the only slug shooting contest in the nation. Participants will use spoons to catapult candy slugs to see whose slug goes the farthest.
The fair also has launched new programs, including one that gives teachers art supply funds in exchange for entering art from local children. The program is working with two local elementary schools and Shipley said she hopes more classrooms will choose to participate in the future.
Shipley — who was dressed as a duck because Dabney Duck is this year’s fair mascot — said she is excited about this year’s fair, which will run Aug. 3-7 at the fairgrounds on Carpenter Road Southeast, near Long Lake Park in Lacey.
All of the proceeds from Shipley’s book go to the Thurston County Fair Foundation. It is available for checkout at Timberland public libraries or can be purchased by contacting Shipley at firstname.lastname@example.org.