Attendance increased 3 percent this year at the Northwest Washington Fair, while the midweek rodeo attendance soared.
Organizers attributed the increase to popular new attractions, such as dog jumping competitions and animal races, longtime agricultural favorites and good weather during the fair’s six-day run Aug. 17-22.
A total of 189,154 attended, according to Fair Manager Jim Baron.
“This event would not be possible without an incredible amount of effort by so many people,” Baron said. “I am so appreciative of the opportunity I have to work with a great board of directors, a dedicated group of superintendents and hundreds of volunteers.”
For the second year in a row, the Lynden PRCA Rodeo was part of the fair. People apparently caught on this year and were attracted to bigger name participants, with more than 5,500 fans watching, a 45 percent increase in attendance, according to Baron.
Before the fair opened, organizers worked to assure the community that they made multiple changes to prevent problems with E. coli after an outbreak linked to the dairy barn this spring.
The fair doubled the number of hand-washing stations with soap and water to 24. It also put up signs, offered games for children and added hand-washing ambassadors in areas such as the dairy barn and Henry Jansen Ag Center to talk to people about healthy hygiene.
“The hand-washing initiative exceeded our expectations in every respect,” Baron said in a press release. “The incentive of prizes for children going through the process with our hand-washing ambassadors was exceptionally well received with far more participation than we anticipated. The program was designed to educate the public on the importance of washing hands after interacting with animals and we feel we were successful in accomplishing our goal.”
The Northwest Washington Fair has put a premium on security and safety, especially after a gang-related shooting in the waning moments of the 2011 fair. This year there were no major crime problems, Baron said. Visits to first-aid stations also were down.
Next year’s fair is Aug. 15-20.