MONROE — Alaric Sawade walked along a row of pigeon cages inside the new Evergreen State Fairground’s event center.
He stopped in front of one, reached in and pulled out a homing pigeon. The bird is one of eight the Snohomish resident plans to show during the first week of the fair that begi
ns today. He hopes one of his prized pigeons will be a top contender for this year’s fit and show category.
“That’s a fair thing when you have to talk to a judge and he asks you questions about your bird and has you show your bird,” he said.
Alaric, 16, said he expects a judge at the fair to take a close look at the bird’s wings, tail and feet. Then it will be his turn to answer some questions about the bird’s coloring, breed and health.
The bird is ready, Alaric said. He’s the one who still needs to prepare.
“I have to look up a little more about diseases,” he said.
Alaric, his brother, Darien, 12, and other 4-H members on Wednesday brought their animals to the Evergreen State Fairgrounds to be inspected and to get ready for today’s opening.
4-H Club members Emily Reid of Monroe and Stefani Baker of Stanwood each brought chickens to the fair. They checked in their own birds and then helped to examine others for any sign of parasites or diseases. The girls said they examined about 100 chickens by mid-afternoon.
“Before they come in these doors we check them,” said Stefani, 14.
The two will show their chickens in the approximately 36,000-square-foot building shared with other 4-H club members and their chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs, dogs and horticulture displays. The $4.2 million event center replaces rabbit, poultry and dog barns built in 1948. There was still a little painting left to be done on the building Wednesday afternoon, said Hal Gausman, interim fair manager.
“This is the first real big event,” Gausman said. “It’s about as stinking new as you can get.”
There’s much more room in the new building for fair visitors to speak with members of 14 4-H dog clubs and see 190 dogs that are set to be part of the fair’s 12-day run, said Sharon Olsen, dog barn superintendent.
The old dog barn had 5 1/2-foot aisles that were often too crowded to safely move through, Olsen said.
“We couldn’t get a wheelchair and a stroller to pass,” she said. “Now we have 9-foot aisles and we have regulation-size rinks for showing.”
Members from 10 4-H dog clubs spent the past two months building and painting 38 benches for dogs to sit on while they are being shown at the center, she added. Dogs are set to compete in showmanship, obedience, agility and costume events.
Fitting all the animals and events in one building took some planning, Gausman said. The poultry, pigeons, rabbits and guinea pigs will be on one side of the center while the dogs are set to be on the other. Future Farmers of America club members will use the space in between to show their horticulture displays.
The new set up works well for everyone, said Megan Russell, a member of Cedarcrest High School FFA chapter in Duvall. She filled out paperwork Wednesday at the center for her horticulture entries.
“I’m hoping to get a blue ribbon,” said Megan, 17. “They’re fun to hang on the wall.”
The Evergreen State Fair at 14405 179th Ave. SE, is the largest event in Snohomish County. Last year, 754,805 people attended the fair, Gausman said. A total of 325 seasonal workers were hired for this year’s fair and nearly 1,000 volunteers also help to keep it running.
“The economic impact of the fair on this county is huge,” Gausman said.
There are also several days this year where people can save on the cost of fair admission. New this year are Food Bank Frenzy Fridays where until 3 p.m. on Friday and Sept. 2, anyone who brings three cans of food receives free admission.
Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; email@example.com.
Today: Gerry Andal Day. Free gate admission for everyone until 1 p.m.
Friday: X-Treme Fry-Day. Food Bank Frenzy: Free admission until 3 p.m. with three cans of food.
Monday: Senior Citizen Day. Senior citizens 62 and older receive free admission.
Tuesday: Twosday Tuesday. General admission cost $2 before 2 p.m.
Wednesday: Why Work Wednesday. Buy one adult admission and get one adult admission free.
Sept. 1: Kid’s Day. Free admission for children age 15 and younger.
Sept. 2: Armed Forces Day. Armed Forces and emergency services personnel receive $5 admission with a valid ID. Food Bank Frenzy: Free admission until 3 p.m. with three cans of food.
Sept. 5: Play Day. Discounted gate admission for everyone.