Letters to the Editor

Fair now open to interlopers

It was with shock, amusement and concern that I read the page 2 April 28 article in The Whidbey News-Times  regarding the upcoming change to the Island County Fair. The traditional Fair Board, according to the article, “dissolved itself.” Maybe they should play the main stage on Saturday afternoon, that’s some trick. The new board can reportedly make quicker payments and that may be a good thing, but exposing our county’s residents to bovine, baking, and rabbit competition from beyond our county line is quite another.

Since its inception in 1895, The Island County Fair has become an institution. Every summer we get together and duke it out over who grows the best string beans, who is best at canning the beans, who has the fastest cutting chainsaw, who has the best behaved golden retriever, swiftest barrel racer, cutest baby pigs, and how many different color swatches can be incorporated into a queen sized quilt.

Over the generations grudge matches have developed and if you don’t get a ribbon, it’s a comfort to know who you may have to defeat the following August. Now that we are designated an “area” fair we’ll be subjected to a sort of guerilla 4-H, nervously never knowing who our next challenger may be.

I hear the dahlias from the sunny side of Orcas Island are to die for. Should we subject ourselves to tubers with such a radiance that (by law) they haven’t been allowed to compete beyond Friday Harbor? How about stacking our South End tulips against the professionals from La Conner?

To many, British Columbia is perceived as being in our “area.” What happens when the Royal Canadian Mounties gallop down here from the Peace Arch with those beautiful, huge horses? We’ll get our butts handed to us, that’s what. I’m not against a little competition, but word on the street is a scrappy herd of Holsteins from the south side of Sedro-Woolley are just aching for a little barnyard rumble in Langley! If this concept flies, our Falcon football squad may have to go up against the Seahawks in pre-season!

Even if a person were to eke out a win against the interlopers, the previous pride of being awarded “Best Salmonberry Pie of Island County” will now be watered down by the nebulous title of “Best Pie In the Whidbey Island … Area.” How about a Black Angus from our glorious Maxwelton Valley with what was a distinguished, blue “Island County Fair” ribbon draped around that lustrous neck? The ribbon design under this new regime may very well read “Best Side of Beef … in these here parts.”

And what of the newly dejected Camano Island folks? As a geographic piece of Island County they have been an official part of The Island County Fair from the beginning. Now it seems with the name “Whidbey Island Area Fair,” the Camanoans will have to make their case for being in the “area” of Whidbey Island in order to be included in their own fair. Even though some say Camano is simply a peninsula attached to Stanwood, this is just too much! Or could this be the political end game? Could the Whidbey Island “area” be innocently redrawn without Camano, resulting in their tax revenue being gobbled up by Snohomish County? Only time will tell.

Jeff Bakeman


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