MONROE — Mostly clear skies and little rain or wildfire smoke no doubt helped bring large crowds to the Evergreen State Fair this year.
As of 2:30 p.m. Monday, the last day of the fair, 341,344 people had passed through the gate since the fair opened on Aug. 23, according to Shannon Hays, a spokeswoman for Snohomish County Parks. When the fair opened, the air was just clearing after two weeks of smoke from hundreds of wildfires in the Northwest.
“We’re on track to hit the record or be really close,” she said of attendance this year. Final numbers will be released after the fair closes. The all-time record was set last year, when 350,761 visited during the fair’s 12-day run.
This year, during the afternoon of the last day, fair gates were fully packed with people entering, Hays said.
With hours remaining, there still were ducks to race, games to play and plenty of elephant ears to be eaten.
New this year was the Makers Market, a place for local artisans to sell handmade goods. The stalls were tucked behind a snow cone stand and the chainsaw carvers, and with no signs to mark the space the artists weren’t easy to find.
The four stalls held a rotating cast of artisans throughout the fair. On the last weekend, the booths were comprised of a wood worker, a decorative sign maker, a pottery shop and a soap maker.
“It’s slower than I thought it would be,” said Leslie Willmann, who, with her daughter, owns Monroe-based The Junk Sisterhood. “People don’t know we’re here.”
Things picked up for Bruning Pottery after they tried to make their booth more visible to passing fair attendees by placing a shelf of recently thrown bowls outside the building that held the market.
Rebecca English spent the day demonstrating the throwing process for handmade pottery.
“A lot of people were watching us,” she said, her pants and shirt caked with dried clay, “which was a lot of fun.”
Monroe-based Knotty Dog Craftworks had a booth offering cutting boards, wooden pens and wizard wands.
If the market continues next year, Stephen Liberty, who runs Knotty Dog with his wife, Angela, wants the fair to add more signs and mark the space on fair maps so crowds are aware the booths exists.
“Since it was the first year, we knew it was going to be a risk to come,” Liberty said.
He was optimistic about the future of the market, saying fair officials were open to suggestions.
“It’s nice to sell local products to local people,” said Angela Liberty, as she prepared her lathe to make a pen. “And to meet the people who are buying our products.”
Lizz Giordano: 425-374-4165; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @lizzgior.