People wait in line for amusement park tickets at the Evergreen State Fair on Aug. 26 in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

People wait in line for amusement park tickets at the Evergreen State Fair on Aug. 26 in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

At limited capacity, Evergreen State Fair draws 181,000

Organizers say this year’s visitors enjoyed experiencing the fair with “a little more shoulder room.”

MONROE — It was an Evergreen State Fair unlike any other, with masks required indoors and hand washing stations scattered across the grounds.

But it was good to be back, Snohomish County Parks Director Jeremy Husby said Tuesday.

“A lot of our superintendents were almost in tears, just being back at a fair, and making eye contact with people, in person,” he said. “I think that was extremely valuable.”

Over 11 days in August and September, 181,229 people walked through the gates to eat classic fair foods, play games, get up close to goats, horses, pigs and other animals, as well as see lumberjack shows, monster trucks and an Elvis impersonator.

This year’s attendance was a little more than half of 2019’s total, Husby said.

“That’s kind of what we were targeting with a lower capacity,” he said.

Each day, staff monitored capacity to ensure social distancing could be maintained on the fairgrounds.

There was no set limit on visitors, but on two occasions, they closed the gates to prevent overcrowding.

“It’s very difficult to gauge capacity,” Husby said. “When we knew we were at a place to shut down, it’s a tough decision, but we did it twice and it actually was really successful.”

Lilian Lentz (left), 6, and Daphne Lentz (right), 4, help clean horses for Morning View Farm during opening day of the Evergreen State Fair on Aug. 26 in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

Lilian Lentz (left), 6, and Daphne Lentz (right), 4, help clean horses for Morning View Farm during opening day of the Evergreen State Fair on Aug. 26 in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

When inside, visitors enjoyed the extra room to walk around, he added. In previous years, Sundays at the fair often meant attendees were shoulder-to-shoulder when walking around the grounds.

They also enjoyed the free parking, which could become a perennial feature.

“It was a revenue hit, but I think the value it gave our customers was remarkable,” he said. “I think it speaks volumes to how we treat our customers.”

Across Washington, counties have reckoned with hosting fairs during COVID’s fifth wave.

In Snohomish County, staff opted for limited capacity with safety protocols like masks when indoors.

Others went full bore.

The Grant County Fair shattered its previous attendance record, with this year’s daily average of visitors up nearly 50% from 2019, leaders announced.

Alex Markiel sits with her dog Sabre and reads during opening day of the Evergreen State Fair on Aug. 26 in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

Alex Markiel sits with her dog Sabre and reads during opening day of the Evergreen State Fair on Aug. 26 in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

Earlier this month, the state Department of Health listed the Grant County Fair as one of five recent COVID super spreader events across the state.

The Whatcom County Fair was also reported as a super spreader, with more than 160 cases linked to the event, The Bellingham Herald reported.

The state’s three other known super spreader events included two music festivals at the Gorge Amphitheatre — Watershed and Bass Canyon — as well as the Omak Stampede.

In Snohomish County, no outbreaks have been connected to the fair, health officer Dr. Chris Spitters said.

But with overall virus transmission so high, it’s hard to sort out where cases are coming from, he added.

“Certainly, if we get a signal, we’ll share the information,” Spitters said.

Joey Thompson: 425-339-3449; jthompson@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @byjoeythompson.

Talk to us

More in Local News

A family of four escaped a fire in their home's garage without injuries Saturday night in Brier. (South County Fire)
Brier family escapes harm after fire in garage

The two-story house in the 22800 block of Brier Road had an estimated $150,000 in damages, per South County Fire.

A woman was injured in an attack Sunday at Clark Park in Everett. (Everett Police Department)
Woman injured after attack at Clark Park in Everett

The woman was taken to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett for her injuries, which were not considered critical.

Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney in a video decries an erosion of public safety and increase in brazen criminal behavior. (Screenshot)
Snohomish County sheriff, chorus of local leaders decry policing reforms

Criminals are getting more brazen, they said. In a video, they called for easing vehicle pursuit rules and stiffening drug laws.

Attorney Michael Andrews, left, and Kyle Brown listen to the judge's address Wednesday afternoon at the Snohomish County Superior Courthouse in Everett, Washington on September 21, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Marysville ex-youth minister gets community service for sexual assault

Kyle Brown, of Marysville, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault with a sexual motivation last month. In 2019, he was charged with molestation.

A semi truck blows smoke out of its exhaust pipes while driving southbound on I-5 on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Reader: Did a tractor-trailer cover my car in diesel soot?

Probably not, according to a Department of Ecology spokesperson, since diesel emissions are getting “cleaner.”

Phyllis Hopkins, left, and Debbie Wetzel at the site of the Cathcart Crossing project on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022 in Cathcart, Washington. Hopkins is one of 13 neighbors who was left out of the loop about a public hearing and comment period for the proposed development, an appeal alleges. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Neighbors appeal 286 townhomes off Highway 9 in Cathcart

Residents are protesting what they say is a lack of transparency. The Snohomish County Council will hear their appeal Oct. 5.

Alderwood Water & Wastewater District water quality tech assistant Matt Williams looks at the clarity of a water sample taken from the artesian well located along164th Street on Monday, April 2, 2018 in Lynnwood, Wa. The well," also known as Well No. 5 or the 164th Street Artesian Well is in excess of 400 feet in depth and flows at a rate of about 10 gallons per minute. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Water district keeps leadership, for now, despite staff woes

Investigations found Alderwood General Manager Dick McKinley broke ethics rules, more than once.

Snohomish County vital statistics

Marriage licenses, dissolutions and deaths.

On Aug. 30, Everett police posted this photo to Facebook seeking tips about an alleged fatal hit-and-run. (Everett Police Department)
Woman arrested in hit-and-run death of Everett pedestrian

Patricia Oman, 80, was walking on Broadway when she was hit. She died four days later. The alleged driver was held on $100,000 bail.

Most Read