Get ready to squeal: State fair returns Thursday

You might be squealing about this year’s Evergreen State Fair because the music is so good.

Or you may squeal because there are some new — and yummy-sounding — food vendors this year.

Or maybe you’re squealing because you know you’ll have a chance to see the All-Alaskan Pig Races again or climb aboard one of the amusements rides.

Whatever your reason, the Evergreen State Fair’s motto this year is “Get your squeal on and race to the fair” which opens Thursday at the state fairgrounds in Monroe and runs for 11 days.

There was a “renewed focus” on music at this year’s fair to keep raising the bar for the quality of entertainment this fair offers, said Hal Gausman, manager of the Evergreen State Fairgrounds and Park.

“We’ve got some great acts this year,” Gausman said. “It’s always tricky what music is going to draw people out.”

Tricks aside, the treat at this year’s fair might be the diversity of musical selections on the grandstand stage.

Babyboomers might squeal about headliner band Styx performing some of their classic hits such as “Lady” and “Come Sail Away.”

Country fans will hope to hear Rodney Atkins’ hit single “Take a Back Road.”

Soulful and charming singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw will offer some freewheeling melodies while sharing the stage with vocalist Colbie Caillat, who has evolved to singing pop tunes such as her single “Brighter Than the Sun.”

Actress and pop singer Demi Lovato also appears, as does country singer Jake Owen.

The carnival offers some big rides, which “distinguishes us from a lot of other smaller fairs,” Gausman said, including the Drop Tower and Electric Storm.

The fair this year is truly embracing the fact that people don’t come for diet food, Gausman said.

Gourmets might want to check out the new food vendor Rainy Day Gourmet owned by Steel Johnson in Snohomish. They will sell Brazilian seafood stew with shrimp, halibut, scallops and mussels in a coconut-tomato broth, along with truffled mushroom grilled cheese and homemade strawberry lemonade.

If you dig German food, Vrieze’s Fleischkuechel, owned by Virginia and Ben Vrieze of Puyallup, will sell “fleischkuechels,” German turnovers filled with different meats and cheese such as bacon and jalapenos, or fruits such as cherry or apple.

And a regular vendor is trying something new this year. Walla Walla Burger, owned by Amber Cappi of Arizona, will offer “Build Your Own Man Dog,” which will include different-sized hot dogs and a turntable with an array of condiments to choose from, including peanuts, salsa, mayonnaise, ranch dressing and cream cheese. For the manliest man, there will also be a bacon-wrapped dog.

Close to the food vendors is the community stage, with entertainment for visitors who can’t catch the late-night grandstand acts. Acts include bluegrass music and a Neil Diamond tribute band.

The fair also offers a rodeo, a multitude of vendors, a heritage museum with hands-on exhibits such as rope-making and lots of and lots of contests.

You can win prizes and bragging rights by entering a pie-eating contest or the egg toss or entering your baby in the diaper derby. For you younger types, there are text messaging contests as well. GBG! (Great Big Grin).

The fair’s new events center is the space for people to see the dog shows and the chickens and the rabbits and that whole connection to the animals of Snohomish County, Gausman said.

Gausman said the county is a growing and changing demographic but still “we have a very agricultural heritage.”

“The fair is the heart of Snohomish County,” Gausman said. “It’s a little piece of everything that happens in the county and that happens at the fair.”

The Evergreen State Fair runs from Aug. 23 to Sept. 3 at the Monroe fairgrounds, 14405 179th Ave. SE, Monroe.

Opening day offers free admission to everyone until 1 p.m.

Regular gate admission is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and youth and free to those 5 and younger or 90 and older.

Tickets can be purchased online or over the phone at 800-514-3849, ext. 2.

For more information, call 360-805-6700. For a complete schedule of events, go to www.evergreenfair.org.

Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424; goffredo@heraldnet.com.

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