Volunteers key to successful Northwest Washington Fair

COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALDAugust 29, 2013 

Northwest Washington Fair

Scenes from the 2013 Northwest Washington Fair on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013 in Lynden.

MATT MCDONALD — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

It's a wrap. The 103rd Northwest Washington Fair, held Aug. 12-17, was a tremendous success.

Although attendance was down slightly, just under 200,000, other barometers that measure the success of a fair hit new highs. Fair food sales were up significantly, carnival revenue was exceptional, the weather was great and the entertainment excellent. But the most important barometer: People had fun.

I know I had a great time and hopefully you did, too. A special memory was made when I was able to take my 11-year-old granddaughter to the Hunter Hayes concert. What an amazing experience seeing all of these young people having a great time at that concert! The buzz in the air as the concert wrapped up reminded me of when Garth Brooks joined Trisha Yearwood on stage at our fair in 1997. As our motto this year said, history worth repeating.

I totally enjoyed The Guess Who and was especially impressed by the bass guitar player, who has been doing this gig for 51 years. And the demolition derby was yet another smashing success. It will be a special memory for our family as all 12 of us sat together to watch. The grandsons have been playing demo derby in the sandbox ever since.

Our annual celebration succeeds by staying true to its five core values: youth, community, agriculture, education and entertainment. But this week-long celebration is possible only through the contributions of many fair supporters.

Did you enjoying viewing the well-groomed cows, horses, sheep and other animals? Maybe you preferred the artistry and skills of exhibits in art, photography, quilting and horticulture. The Northwest Washington Fair displayed more than 10,000 exhibits from more than 2,000 people, including many young FFA and 4-H members. We're grateful for their participation.

As a nonprofit organization, we rely on volunteers ranging from those who staff the admission gates to our department heads and board members. We truly appreciate the countless hours these people devote to making our fair better each year. And we also acknowledge the volunteers who staffed the food booths and parking lots of local nonprofit organizations, helping them raise funds critical to their activities.

The Northwest Washington Fair also is blessed with the cooperation of local law enforcement agencies and emergency responders. The Lynden Police Department, the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office, the Lynden Fire Department and our security teams work hard to ensure this is a safe event. When needed, medical treatment was promptly and expertly provided. And we successfully united some "lost" parents with their children!

With so much help, plus a superb staff led by fair manager Jim Baron, the Northwest Washington Fair is in solid financial shape. We're able to bring in top-notch entertainers, keep up with maintenance on the numerous buildings and even set some money aside for capital improvements. The success of our fair also contributes to the local economy as many visitors do some shopping while they're here for the fair.

A new branch of support, the Northwest Washington Fair Foundation, was launched late last year. The foundation's goal is "to financially support agricultural education and the enhancement and preservation of the Northwest Washington Fair." This will be done through agricultural scholarships, free gate admission for disadvantaged groups and eventually an agriculture education center and museum. If you're interested in supporting the Northwest Washington Fair Foundation's efforts, please call the fair office at 360-354-4111.

The Northwest Washington Fair is the source of many wonderful memories and experiences for all ages. We hope you'll come back for some more next August!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Marv Tjoelker is board president of the Northwest Washington Fair Association.

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