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Here’s what you need to know to get the most out of this year’s Northwest Washington Fair

Cowboys, poffertjes and cute animals are a few of the highlights at the fair in Lynden

A compilation of action from the second day of the Northwest Washington Fair on Tuesday, Aug. 14, in Lynden.
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A compilation of action from the second day of the Northwest Washington Fair on Tuesday, Aug. 14, in Lynden.

Get ready to laugh and sing, squeal over cute baby animals, scream during rides, stuff your face, and cheer on professional rodeo riders during the 109th Northwest Washington Fair.

The fair in Lynden opens Monday, Aug. 12, and runs through Saturday, Aug. 17.

Leading the entertainment is comedian Larry the Cable Guy — real name Daniel Lawrence Whitney — and Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Cheap Trick.

“Remember this summer forever” is this year’s theme and fair organizers hope an estimated 200,000 visitors will do just that while celebrating Whatcom County’s farmers and agricultural heritage.

After all, the biggest stars are the animals and the people who raise them, said Jim Baron, general manager for the fair.

“Baby animals are always a huge attraction,” Baron said.

You can catch them at the Small Animal Experience, an exhibit that features baby animals as well as small animals such as bunnies, chickens and calves. Organizers try to time it so that a calf or piglets are born during fair week.

Going will give people a chance to see agriculture that is specific to Whatcom County.

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Some of the top cowboys will compete in bull riding, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling and team roping at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 13-14, at the Northwest Washington Fair in Lynden. Event tickets are required in addition to gate tickets for the rodeo, Bianca He bianca.he@bellinghamherald.com

“One of the things that I personally love about fairs, in general, is when you go to the fair it is a reflection of the community that that fair is in,” Baron said. “If you come to the fair with your eyes open, you’ll see that.”

For example, if you go to the fair in Yakima, you’ll see hops. They’re grown there but not in Whatcom County.

If you go to a fair in Okanogan, you won’t see dairy. But you’ll see dairy at the fair in Lynden because it has a big presence in Whatcom County agriculture.

Finally, the fair is about relishing the waning days of summer with others.

“It’s about the experience. It’s about creating memories. It’s about being there with your friends, with your family,” Baron said.

Here are some things you’ll need to know to get the most out of the six-day fair this year:

Where: Northwest Washington Fair and Events Center, 1775 Front St. in Lynden.

When: Gates are open 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Aug. 12-17; carnival rides and games are open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

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Funtastic Traveling Shows will return with carnival rides and games. There will be three new rides this year and a return of the Zipper ride at the Northwest Washington Fair in Lynden. Evan Abell evan.abell@bellinghamherald.com

Entry cost: Gate admission is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors 62 and older and $9 for youth ages 6-12. Children 5 and younger get in for free.

Still time to save a little: Discounted tickets ($12 adults, $10 seniors, $8 youth) are available through Sunday, Aug. 11, at Haggen Northwest Fresh stores in Whatcom County. Family value packs of two adult admission tickets, two youth admission tickets and two one-day carnival wristbands are offered for $99 (a $23 savings) through Aug. 11 at Little Caesars Pizza in Whatcom County.

All-day carnival wristbands also are available through Aug. 11 at Little Caesars for $29 (regularly $38).

Parking: Parking is free in downtown Lynden, where a free shuttle to the fairgrounds also is available. You can pay to park closer in the lots that surround the fairground; proceeds from most support local causes.

Bus service: The Whatcom Transportation Authority is offering free rides on all routes Aug. 12-17, except on the 80X route to Mount Vernon. WTA will offer a special 10 p.m. return trip from the fairgrounds during the fair. Departing from the bus stop across the street from the fairgrounds, it will make two stops at the Cordata and downtown stations in Bellingham.

Military thank you: Active duty, retired and veteran military personnel and family members accompanying them will get into the fair for free on Wednesday, Aug. 14., for Military Appreciation Day. Families of deployed personnel also will receive complimentary admission with valid military ID.

As part of the day, active-duty military and Veterans of Foreign Wars members will be part of the free grandstand horse shows at noon and 4:30 p.m.

There also will be a flag ceremony near the clock tower at 5:45 p.m. that day and a tribute to the armed forces will precede the Lynden PRCA Rodeo competition at 7 p.m.

Demolition Derby: Shows at 12:30 and 7:30 p.m. Monday, Aug, 12. Tickets are required.

Lynden PRCA Rodeo: Some of the top cowboys will compete in bull riding, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling and team roping at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 13-14. Tickets are required.

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Cheap Trick, known for hits “I Want You to Want Me,” “Dream Police” and “Surrender,” will perform at the Northwest Washington Fair on Aug. 17. Cheap Trick Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Did you say free? Baron said the fair is sensitive to the cost of admission, so he likes to point out the free entertainment available inside. That includes all exhibits, the Banner Bank Festival Stage entertainment, walk-around entertainment and farm animal viewings.

From Tuesday-Saturday, Aug. 13-17, there are free horse shows in the Grandstand Arena at noon and 4:30 p.m. And the Mark Chesnutt country music concert on Friday night, Aug. 16, has free festival seating on a limited, first-come, first-served basis.

Did you say rides? Funtastic Traveling Shows will return with carnival rides and games. There will be three new rides this year and a return of the Zipper ride.

“By popular demand, the Zipper is back,” Baron said.

What’s that big building? Check out the new $4 million Farm Pavilion, which has replaced three aging buildings near the fair’s main entrance on Front Street. It will be the future home of the Farming for Life Experience, which is scheduled to open August 2020 to showcase Pacific Northwest agriculture. Go to the building during the fair for a sneak peek of the exhibit.

More information: Go to nwwafair.com or call 360-354-4111.

Kie Relyea has been a reporter at The Bellingham Herald since 1997 and currently writes about social services and recreation in Whatcom County. She started her career in 1991 as a reporter and editor in Northern California.
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