FFA members Sierra Owens (left) and her rooster, Tiny, sit next to Megan Reid and her chicken, Sleepy, on opening day of the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

FFA members Sierra Owens (left) and her rooster, Tiny, sit next to Megan Reid and her chicken, Sleepy, on opening day of the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Duck races, food, carnival rides: Evergreen fair is open!

The 110th state fair in Monroe kicked off Thursday and continues through Labor Day.

MONROE — Esme Wright had never raced ducks before.

Turns out, she’s a natural.

The 8-year-old from Edmonds was crowned champion in the first round of Great American Duck Races on Thursday, the opening day of the Evergreen State Fair.

Her crown was a visor decorated in the likeness of a cartoonish duck, complete with a big orange bill.

“You hold them close to the water and you splash to get them going,” she said, explaining her technique for winning her way through preliminary rounds and into the finals.

About 100 people gathered in stands around a rectangular pool to watch the races, which take place four times each day.

Audience volunteers held Mallard ducks at the starting line on one side of the pool. On the signal — the sound made by a bright yellow duck call — they released the fowl, which splashed across the pool, each in their own lane.

It was fun, Esme said, and she might come back for more races, though she was looking forward to enjoying some rides first.

The 110th Evergreen State Fair continues through Labor Day. The annual event draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

On Thursday, a brief morning sprinkle didn’t shorten lines for carnival ride wristbands or fresh-baked scones. Some fairgoers darted into the shelter of barns filled with animals, or stopped by covered areas where vendors sold socks, spice rubs, hot tubs, seat cushions and an assortment other items.

Esme Wright, champion in the first round of Great American Duck Races on Thursday at the Evergreen State Fair.

Esme Wright, champion in the first round of Great American Duck Races on Thursday at the Evergreen State Fair.

Families moved around the fairgrounds, parents pushing strollers or holding children’s hands.

Brynna, Braden and Bryce were there with their parents and grandparents.

“We always make it an annual event and come with the family,” mom Kristen Kowalski said.

Bryce, 3, dismounted from a pony and soon after was perched on the shoulders of Brynna, 11. Braden, 6, fidgeted while waiting for the group to head toward the rest of the kids rides. He wasn’t just there for carnival, though. He had fun cheering on his older sister in the 3-on-3 basketball tournament, he said. Brynna’s team won two games Thursday morning.

People enjoy the Yoyo ride on opening day of the Evergreen State Fair. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

People enjoy the Yoyo ride on opening day of the Evergreen State Fair. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Grandfather Joe Kowalski has been taking his family to the fair for decades.

“We used to wait for the opening day,” he said. “I remember the kids would drive me crazy.”

Thursday also was the Fair Cares Food Drive. Price of admission was three cans of food per person.

Maddy Ogden, 18, and Meg Gray, 29, volunteered at the Green Gate entrance, gathering and boxing up donations. Within 15 minutes of the fair opening, the two already had loaded and stacked several boxes.

The women grew up going to the fair. Ogden showed chickens for a few years. She’s a recent Snohomish High School graduate. Gray has been coming to the fair for as long as she can remember.

Their advice is to spend the day and check out everything.

Lily Nebeker, 15, braids her horse Rem’s tail with ribbon Thursday on opening day at the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Lily Nebeker, 15, braids her horse Rem’s tail with ribbon Thursday on opening day at the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

“Don’t miss going all the way down to the cows,” Gray said. “I think sometimes people don’t come far enough down toward the Green Gate to see all of those animals.”

Both say the food is one of their favorite parts. Ogden always gets a funnel cake, while Gray prefers the onion burst.

They weren’t alone in their appreciation of the food.

As the fair was getting underway, a young boy and his mother rounded the corner of a building that separates most of the carnival rides from the rows of food stands. They walked into a medley of smells.

“I know what I want for lunch,” the boy told his mom eagerly.

It was 10:27 a.m.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A Mukilteo Speedway sign hangs at an intersection along the road on Sunday, April 21, 2024, in Mukilteo, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Long live the Speedway! Mukilteo’s main drag won’t be renamed

The public shot down the mayor’s idea to change the name: 77% voted ‘No’ in an online survey, with 95% opposed on Facebook.

Everett
Motorcyclist dies in crash on East Marine View Drive in Everett

Around 8 p.m. Tuesday, a motorcycle and a vehicle crashed into each other at the intersection of 11th street and East Marine View Drive.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Darrington in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Motorcyclist dies in crash on Highway 530

Jeremy Doyle, 46, was riding east near Darrington when he crashed into the side of a car that was turning left.

The Marysville School District office on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
‘Financially insolvent’ Marysville schools to get unprecedented oversight

Superintendent Chris Reykdal will convene a first-of-its-kind Financial Oversight Committee, he wrote in a letter Tuesday.

Woodside Elementary Principal Betty Cobbs on Monday, June 17, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett’s first Black principal retires after 51 years

In her office, Betty Cobbs kept a black-and-white photo of herself at age 5: “I am right there, with dreams of becoming an educator.”

Junelle Lewis, right, daughter Tamara Grigsby and son Jayden Hill sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” during Monroe’s Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, June 18, 2022. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
On Juneteenth: ‘We can always say that there is hope’

The Snohomish County NAACP is co-sponsoring a celebration Saturday near Snohomish, with speakers, music and food.

Granite Falls
Man, 35, dies from heart attack while hiking Lake 22

The man suffered a heart attack about 1½ miles into the 6-mile hike east of Granite Falls on Friday, authorities said.

36 hours after final show, Everett radio host Charlye Parker, 80, dies

When Parker got into radio, she was a rarity: a woman in a DJ booth. For the past 12 years, she hosted weekend country music shows at KXA.

Homeowners Jim and Chris Hall stand beneath their new heat pump, at right, inside their Whidbey Island home on Thursday, Sep. 7, 2023, near Langley, Washington. The couple, who are from Alaska, have decreased their use of their wood burning stove to reduce their carbon footprint. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Snohomish County to start ‘kicking gas’ in push for all-electric homes

Last year, 118 Whidbey Island homes installed energy-efficient heat pumps. A new campaign aims to make the case for induction stoves now, too.

Dr. Scott Macfee and Dr. Daniel Goodman outside of the Community Health Center on Wednesday, June 12, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett CHC doctors, feeling like ‘commodities,’ speak up on ailing system

At the Community Health Center of Snohomish County, doctors say they feel like “rats getting off a sinking ship.” They want it to get better.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Man charged with shooting at ex-girlfriend, child in Mountlake Terrace

The man, 21, showed up to his ex-girlfriend’s apartment and opened fire through the door, new court records say.

People walk along Olympic Avenue past Lifeway Cafe and Olympic Theater that currently hosts Lifeway Church on Friday, July 7, 2023 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Arlington churches waged covert ‘battle’ against Pride event, records show

Sermons, emails and interviews reveal how an LGBTQ+ nonprofit became the target of a covert campaign by local evangelical leaders.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.