Fair-goers take rides, exhibits and food for a spin on first day of festivities

MONROE — Some people go for the carnival rides, the logging show or the monster trucks at the speedway.

Others head immediately to the horse arena or the animal barns to see the rabbits, 4-H dogs and the featured sow and her piglets. Some folks stop first for scones with raspberry jam, corn on the cob, curly fries, barbecue sandwiches and those goofy Purple Cow ice cream floats from the booth run by the Snohomish County Dairy Women.

On the first day of the Evergreen State Fair, people gravitate to what they love best.

Some have been at the fairgrounds most of the week, setting things up and getting ready for Thursday’s opening day.

“It’s an amazing transformation,” said fair employee Sherry Stovner, who coordinates all the 4-H, FFA and open class judging. “I love this fair. It’s a manageable size compared to Puyallup.”

Rebekah Jackson, 37, of Maltby, put the finishing touches on the Snohomish County Fruit Society booth Thursday. Her four young children waited patiently while she watered potted fruit trees on display. Jackson answered questions from fair-goers throughout the day. The most frequent was whether native huckleberries are blue or red.

Both. Two kinds, she said.

Jackson’s oldest son, Noah, 9, said his family grows about 60 fruit trees and a lot of berries on about three acres. Noah was eager to leave his mom’s booth and run to the display hall where he and his family had entered some of their canned goods and fresh produce in fair competition.

“I want to see if we got a blue ribbon,” Noah said. His other favorite must-see things at the fair include the Clydesdale horses and the pig races.

Jim Hart, 82, a member of the Nile Shriners in Mountlake Terrace, shucks corn most days at the service club’s food booth.

“We have the best corn on the cob at the fair, without a doubt,” Hart said. “We get our corn from Bob’s Corn near Snohomish. They pick it the night before. It’s fresh and we’re proud that it’s local.”

Brett de Vries, 29, a farm planner with the Snohomish Conservation District, hung out in his agency’s booth waiting to talk with horse owners about the agency’s new horse manure management program.

Across the walkway is the Purple Cow booth where he met his wife, Megan, a former dairy princess, when they were younger.

“As soon as somebody can spell me in the booth,” de Vries said, “I need to get some ice cream at the Purple Cow.”

Lexi Parenteau, 18, a recent graduate of Lakewood High School, volunteered opening day at the ice cream booth. Money raised there benefits scholarships to students interested in agriculture.

“What I love at the fair is the Zipper ride,” Parenteau said. “It’s so fun. I can’t wait to go to the carnival.”

In the dairy barn, Olivia Russell, 16, a Stanwood High School junior, had bags under her eyes Thursday afternoon.

“I’ve been up since 5 a.m.,” Olivia said. “For the first part of the fair I am running, literally, between the horse arena and the dairy barn.”

Her Jersey calf, Aubree, will need her care until the middle of next week. She plans to take home her appaloosa quarter horse, Fritzi, on Saturday night. Until then it’s back and forth all day long, cleaning stalls and competing with her animals.

“Even if I had the time or money, I’m not really interested in the carnival,” Olivia said. “I would rather just hang out with the animals. That’s what I love about the fair.”

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

Fair results

The Evergreen State Fair continues today through Labor Day, just off U.S. 2 in Monroe. Go to www.evergreenfair.org. The Herald plans to publish judging results from the fair on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the next two to three weeks.

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