Whether you’d rather be entertained or be the entertainment, the Thurston County Fair has acres of options.
For those who want to be entertained, the fair has added Seattle stunt comedian Matt Baker, a Guinness World Record holder, to its lineup of bands, clowns, magicians, cat costume contests and more.
Baker holds the record for catching the most bowling balls on his head in 30 seconds. He’ll show off that skill at the fair, along with juggling, telling jokes and doing all manner of stunts he invented.
Baker, formerly of the comedy and juggling duo Brothers From Different Mothers, has performed on “America’s Got Talent” and “Last Comic Standing,” on cruise ships and in shows all over the country — and at the Capital Theater when he lived in Olympia for a year in the early 2000s.
At the time, he was performing in Seattle but not making enough to afford an apartment there. (These days, he owns a house in Seattle.)
He was raised in Eugene, Oregon, he said, and Olympia was the right place for him to finish growing up.
“Olympia was the perfect kind of hippie, liberal town I needed to ease me into a being an adult,” he said.
Baker is also a former professional Hacky Sack footbag player and toured Europe playing — on a tour that advertised Snickers bars —when he was 17.
“Hacky Sack was the thing that started it all,” he said of his career in entertainment. “When I came back from Europe, I was like, ‘What other skills can I learn that I can build a show around?’
“There’s only so much Hacky Sack people can tolerate — about 30 seconds. I learned to juggle, learned to tell jokes, learned some weird skills, and the show just took off from there.”
Also new on the entertainment front will be roving jugglers and stilt walkers from the School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts in Seattle.
And the fair’s Live & Local Series will return, showcasing string bands, jazz bands and cover bands.
For those who’d rather do than watch, old-time games invite one and all to show off such unusual skills as seed spitting.
“We wanted to find a way for everybody to be able to participate somehow and have a chance to win something,” said fair event coordinator Theresa Reid.
Even babies can get into the act with the Diaper Derby — though unlike the other old-fashioned games, the derby does require registration. Both fast crawlers and snappy dressers are welcome; there’ll be prizes for cutest diaper as well as the races.
Also on the schedule are eating contests, look-alike contests and a rubber chicken toss.
For those who’d rather bake pie than eat it, the fair is bringing back its popular open baking contests. For these, as for most of the old-time games, you don’t need to register in advance. Just bake a pie (or cake, or cookies, or cupcakes, depending on the day) and bring it to the fair. Entry is free for bakers.
While both pie baking and pie eating will happen Aug. 1, those who are willing to stuff themselves won’t be sampling the creations of the bakers.
“They are unrelated,” Reid said.
THURSTON COUNTY FAIR
When: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Wednesday-Aug. 1 and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Aug. 2.
Where: Thurston County Fairgrounds, 3054 Carpenter Road SE, Lacey.
Tickets: $7, $6 for ages 60 and older, $5 for ages 6-14, free for children 5 and younger. Wednesday, admission is $1 with a donation to the Thurston County Food Bank. Thursday is Kids Day, and those 14 and younger are admitted for $2. July 31 is Military Appreciation Day; admission is $2 for active and retired military with ID.
Shuttle: Parking at the fair is $5, or park free at Woodland Elementary School, 4630 Carpenter Road SE, or the North Thurston Bus Barn, 6620 Carpenter Road SE, and ride a free shuttle right to the gate.
More information: 360-786-5453 or co.thurston.wa.us/fair.
Also: No open-toed shoes or sandals are allowed on the rides.
MATT BAKER COMEDY AND STUNT SHOW
What: Comedian, juggler and stuntman Baker.
Where: Main stage.
When: Noon, 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Wednesday; noon, 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Thursday; 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. July 31; and 10:30 a.m., noon and 2:30 p.m. Aug. 1 and 2.
OPEN BAKING CONTESTS
Show up with a chocolate cake (Thursday), 6-10 cookies (July 31), a berry pie (Aug. 1) or 4-12 cupcakes (Aug. 2) and get free admission. Judging begins at noon at Thurston Expo Center.
What: A race for babies, who are judged on crawling speed and also on cutest diaper. To compete, babies must be 18 months old or younger and must not yet be able to walk.
When: 11 a.m. Thursday, with registration at 10.
Where: Heritage Hall Green.
More information: co.thurston.wa.us/fair/diaper-derby.
Thursday: Father-son and mother-daughter look-alike contest, 1:30 p.m.
July 21: Rubber chicken toss, 11:30 a.m.; water balloon toss, 1:30 p.m.; watermelon-eating contest, 3 p.m.
Aug. 1: Bubblegum-blowing contest, 10:30 a.m.; pie-eating contest, 2 p.m.
Aug. 2: Seed-spitting contest, 11 a.m.; hay scramble (looking for prizes hidden in hay), 2:30 p.m.
Live & Local Concert Series
Thursday on the main stage: East Bay (jazz), 8-9:30 p.m.
July 31 on the food-court stage: Celtic fiddlers, bluegrass and old-time country, 5-6:30 p.m., and Hook Me Up (jazz), 6:30-9 p.m.
July 31 on the main stage: Backlash (classic rock and blues covers), 8-9:30 p.m.
Aug. 1 on the food-court stage: Old-time string bands The Pine Hearts, 5-7 p.m., and the Oly Mountain Boys, 7-9 p.m.
Aug. 1 on the main stage: Great Pretenders (’50s and ’60s), 8-9:30 p.m.
Savor South Sound
What: Sample regional wines, beers and ciders, plus salmon and other food prepared by the Nisqually Tribe.
When: 5-10 p.m. July 31 and Aug. 1.
Tickets: $10 (in addition to fair admission).