Stanwood fair youth hall advances

STANWOOD — Trying to catch up to its impressive growth in recent years, the Stanwood Camano Community Fair might finally realize long-held dreams of building a new youth exhibit center this year.

The fair has applied for a permit with Snohomish County to build the new facility.

Willie Schatz, project manager and fair board member, said the building would probably be about 5,500 square feet, including an upstairs meeting room. Estimated cost of the building is $606,000.

"We’re definitely hoping to build it for less than that," Schatz said, because many local companies and groups are helping to bring the project in under cost through discounts and volunteer labor.

The new center will be called the Bonnie Cole Youth Building in recognition of 5-year-old who died of heart disease and her late grandparents, Donna and Charles Cole, who for many years supported youth activities at the fair.

"The Cole family is a very big family in our community. They largely made this possible by a big donation," Schatz said. "The fair is donating the rest."

Plans for the new building include three offices, restrooms, a full kitchen and exhibit space. It will be built at the 17-acre fairgrounds at 6431 Pioneer Highway. Northwest Designs of Stanwood is designing the building, and Stane Building of Stanwood will be the construction contractor.

"It’s going to be cool," said Malynda Shipley, the fair’s manager. "We’re so excited."

Fair organizers are hoping the center will open before this year’s 73rd annual fair, Aug. 6-8.

Darryl Main, the fair board’s president, said the new space has long been needed.

"The fair has just grown tremendously," he said.

The fair’s Web site,, describes that growth. In 1968, the fair drew about 3,000 visitors. By 1997, the fair’s attendance had eclipsed 40,000, with more than 4,200 exhibits.

The fair has been using a Grange hall on the fairgrounds for the youth exhibits. Now, the Grange hall — which the fair doesn’t own — can be dedicated to other purposes.

"This gives us our own facility to showcase our youths, which is what a community fair is there to do," Main said.

Young people from Future Farmers of America, 4-H and others will now have a place for their arts and crafts, fresh produce, home-canned goods, baked goods, clothes, hobbies, demonstrations and other exhibits.

The nonprofit community fair relies on 300 volunteers and a 25-member board. Shipley is the only full-time employee.

Reporter Scott Morris: 425-339-3292 or

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