LYNDEN - Big dips and dives and camel rides are awaiting fairgoers at this year's Northwest Washington Fair.
Visitors to the six-day fair, which starts Monday, Aug. 12, will find a few new things on the Northwest Washington Fair and Event Center grounds this year.
In addition to the traditional pens of farm animals - rotund pigs, fluffy rabbits and mooing cows, to name a few - the fair will also feature camels. Bellingham's Camel Safari will be offering camel rides for $7 near the Henry Jansen barn, as well as providing education about the animals.
"It just looked like it was a fun thing," said fair manager Jim Baron. "The fair is all about animals and about education and entertainment, so it fit all of that, and it's something new and fresh, too."
Fairgoers who want a ride with more dramatic dips can give the new Grand Prix roller coaster a try. It's about four stories high and, like a grand prix course, has plenty of curves and exhilarating moments.
"It's probably the biggest ride we've had here," Baron said.
The ride won't be included in the one-day carnival ride passes. It will take five tickets, which cost $1 or $1.25, depending on the number of tickets purchased.
Another first for the fair this year is a food drive, being put on by the fair and the people behind the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal. The goal is to collect 50,000 pounds of non-perishable food from fairgoers to distribute to county food banks during a time of year when donations often ebb. Drop off your canned or dry goods at gates 1, 5 or 8 as you enter. Those who donate food will be entered into a daily prize drawing, with a grand prize of $500.
After last year's successful debut of alcohol sales at the fair, drinks again will be available in the Mt. Baker Rotary Building. The Hilltop Restaurant will run the Hilltopper Grill and Bar in the air-conditioned Rotary Building and will sell beer, wine and spirits. Baron said they decided to continue the alcohol sales after no issues arose last year.
"It proved to be very popular," he said.
Fans of fair food might notice a change in one of their favorite sweet snacks. The Whatcom County Dairy Women have teamed up with The Woods Coffee this year for the cookies on their Moo-Wich ice cream sandwiches.
"We consider it a famous icon of the fair," said Debbie VanderVeen, a spokeswoman for the Whatcom County Dairy Women who was on the cookie selection committee. "People like to buy Moo-Wiches whether it's cold, rainy or hot at the fair."
A whole team of people had the tough job of tasting different recipes until the perfect cookie was found: Hershey's chocolate chips plenty of butter and big, but not so big that people can't manage them while they're walking the fairgrounds.
"We're using a large amount of butter. It almost melts in your mouth it tastes so good," she said. "The past cookies were absolutely delicious, but these are premium cookies."
Those planning to head to the Grandstand for concerts and events in the evening should be warned: The Hunter Hayes show is sold out for Thursday night and Monday night's demolition derby was expected to sell out.
Overall, Baron is optimistic that this is going to be a good week at the fair.
"One of the real keys to a great fair is great weather. So far the forecast looks great. The entertainment lineup looks really strong. The entries are really strong," he said. "There is nothing that is on the negative side of the ledger. It looks like it's stacking up to be a great fair."
IF YOU GO
The Northwest Washington Fair runs Aug. 12 to Aug. 17 at the fairgrounds in Lynden, 1775 Front St.
Gates open 9 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Carnival hours: 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Exhibitor hours: 10 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.
Admission: $12 age 13 and up; $5 age 6-12; $10 seniors 62 and up; children 5 and under free.
Carnival: Rides are $3 and up.
Carnival wristbands, $30, allow one person unlimited access to rides for one day except on Grand Prix roller coaster.
Parking: Parking is free in fair lots. Parking is available in several private fee lots around the fairgrounds. The fair provides free parking shuttles from parking lots throughout the Lynden area.
The 64-page official guide to the 2013 Northwest Washington Fair was included in the Saturday, Aug. 10, print edition of The Bellingham Herald. To read an online version, click here.