SOUNDOFF: Get involved with Island Counter Fair

Summer is here and parents all over Whidbey Island are looking for a way to keep their children busy and entertained over the summer months. The perfect solution is the Island County Fair.

It's a common misconception that one has to be involved in 4-H to participate in the fair, when the truth is that exhibitors must be Island County residents. That's it, period, so most readers of this column qualify.

Fair premium books are available now at local banks, post offices and libraries. Within their pages is a wealth of information about all the categories and rules for entering just about anything made, grown, raised or assembled by Island residents.

After looking over the departments and the rules, it's time to choose a project. Grow a plant or make a craft, have fun with it, learn something from it, and when August rolls around, enter it at the Fair. It's so exciting to come to the Fair and see your project displayed with the ribbon it's been awarded. Another secret many people don't know is that entrants receive premium money along with ribbons and prizes.

I was very lucky growing up in Oak Harbor and being involved in the 4-H program. I remember summer as a time when we worked hard to get our animals ready to show, we always had a project or two going and we counted the days until the Fair. Being from Oak Harbor, I was in the minority at the Fair as most of the entrants and spectators are from Central and South Whidbey. Now that I serve on the Fair's board of directors, one of my goals is to involve more North Whidbey residents and businesses in our fair.

Aside from entering projects, there are several ways to get involved in the fair. Volunteers are always needed for such tasks as preparing the fairgrounds for fairtime; as superintendents in charge of a department, like food preservation; as building stewards during the fair, responsible for overseeing exhibits in a particular building and answering questions fairgoers may have. The list is endless. Factoring in age, personality and health, there's something to appeal to everyone.

Some very exciting things are planned for the 80th Island County Fair.

Fiddle Faddle Farm hosts lots of animals to pet, craft projects to make and demonstrations to watch, along with a mini-circus starring children from the audience. The main arena features horses galore, roping demonstrations, mutton bustin' and greased pig contests. Last year, the

Bunyan Busters' Log Show introduced log rolling in a pond built specifically for that purpose, to the delight of all who have missed the dunk tank which was long a mainstay at the fair.

On the midway, take a seat in the new bleachers and munch on fare as typical as cotton candy or as unusual as loukanico while the parade marches past. Then, head for the carnival, the exhibit halls and the barns. And for the ultimate mutual benefit to both the 4-H'er and the consumer, bid on an animal at the livestock auction.

The fair is full of good old-fashioned family fun for both the young and the young at heart! Nothing is more fun than a county fair, so I hope all of Oak Harbor turns out to support Island County Fair.

For more information on entering your projects or volunteering at the Fair, call the fair office at 360-221-4677 or visit the website at www.islandweb.org/fair.

See you at the Fair August 19-22! I'll be the one hovering by the incubator, waiting for the chicks to hatch.

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