A 1954 photo concessions booth at the Whidbey Island Fairgrounds. (Photos provided)

A 1954 photo concessions booth at the Whidbey Island Fairgrounds. (Photos provided)

Decades of fair memories saved by South Whidbey Historical Society

Thousands of pages digitized and free to view online

Volunteers from the South Whidbey Historical Society saved decades of Whidbey Island Fair history after they digitized thousands of scrapbook pages.

Those curious about the identity of the 1956 “Fair Queen” or the program of “Oak Harbor Night” in 1949 or the musical lineup in the 1980s can check out the scrapbooks online at southwhidbeyhistory.org/island-county-fair. The pages turn just like a real scrapbook and viewers can enlarge the photos to read newspaper articles from back in the day.

Most of the books are free to view but some have been saved for South Whidbey Historical Society members.

The earliest scrapbook they have is from 1949. Some scrapbooks are missing and both the historical society and the organizers of the fair ask that anyone with knowledge of their whereabouts step forward.

The scrapbooks themselves were housed at the fairgrounds and the digital copies will make sure the memories are stored for safekeeping. He said they will have an exhibit during the fair to show off their efforts.

“The problem was that they were kept in a damp area and were deteriorating very rapidly,” said South Whidbey Historical Society President Bill Haroldson.

The group received a grant from Gayle (Cattron) Pancerzewski and Charlie Pancerzewski to digitize the memories.

Laura Canby led the charge to photograph and upload every page. Most of the books have over 100 pages, so it was a big task.

“I think the fair has an important in South Whidbey history,” Canby said. “Especially in the early days, it was a big deal for the inhabitants of South Whidbey. People didn’t go off the island as much as they do today.”

She said photos from the early days of fruits and vegetables and animals show the island’s agrarian roots, and it’s interesting to see some of today’s local figures as children.

“That does give kind of a flavor and history of the fair as well,” she said.

1954 cover of the Whidbey Island Fair scrapbook

1954 cover of the Whidbey Island Fair scrapbook

Helen Haag’s performing chimpanzees were one of the more unusual acts at the 1956 Island County Fair.

Helen Haag’s performing chimpanzees were one of the more unusual acts at the 1956 Island County Fair.

Queen Patsy Arthur and her court in the 1956 Fair Parade.

Queen Patsy Arthur and her court in the 1956 Fair Parade.

Three kids in the 1956 parade, from left to right: Larry Gabelein, Myron Gabelein and Cheri Howe.

Three kids in the 1956 parade, from left to right: Larry Gabelein, Myron Gabelein and Cheri Howe.

1988 pole-climbing competition.

1988 pole-climbing competition.

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