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Atypical county fair

Ready, set, race!  The squirt gun game is just one of the many gaming booths that lets people test their speed, throwing and firing techniques for oversized prizes at the Island County Fair.  - Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times
Ready, set, race! The squirt gun game is just one of the many gaming booths that lets people test their speed, throwing and firing techniques for oversized prizes at the Island County Fair.
— image credit: Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times

Continues today and Sunday

This wasn’t your typical fair.

I knew it when I came through the Island County Fair gate and saw the McLeod Cabin to my right, surrounded by prop gravestones, and boasting, “We have Island County Obits and Cemetery Transcriptions!”

I also knew this when I saw the volume of volunteers. At this year’s Sept. 5 Puyallup Fair, 3,000 temporary, paid positions are still unfilled; even with a climbing unemployment rate.

This festival in Langley was stocked with young volunteers, ages 5 to 19, standing barn duty in every 4-H category, cleaning and answering questions.

Katlyn Blake, from Oak Harbor, was in the midst of training her year-old dog Cappy and did a mock showing and obedience competition.

“Have you seen AKC? For showings they ask you about the body and teeth. The teeth need to have a certain pattern,” she said, maneuvering Cappy into position.

And in the alpaca barn, 16-year-old Brett Medford warned that llama/alpaca mix, Jeremiah, was building saliva.

“When the ears go back, they will spit. You have to pet them with the back of your hand, otherwise they feel threatened,” Medford said, having experienced a spitting last summer by a pregnant alpaca.

The animals are judged throughout the week and categories such as pigs and goats will be auctioned for the meat market today.

At times, these knowledgeable volunteers leave the barns and wander to the midway for food. Bustling stands include elephant ears, the Island County Democrats’ baked potatoes, and across the way, the Island County Republicans’ ice cream with patriotic sprinkles.

As a band churned out covers from the 1960s, families grouped to tables, which were aplenty, and children squirreled away to dance.

Most teenagers surveyed were less excited about the rides and more enticed by the free stuff.

Justin Urtasun and Josh Hetcel sat patiently in the bandstand for the band Ammaretto to perform and Travis Kenworthy and Greg Nelson volunteered at the curly fries and buffalo burgers stands, hoping to score free food.

Other low-budget activities included art, agriculture and rock exhibits, cooking and log-rolling.

The crowds Thursday were large but not unbearable and the warm weather will reportedly continue throughout this weekend. Sunday, Aug. 17, is your last day to attend and children under 5 get in free.

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