In Our Opinion: Welcome back, Whidbey Island Fair, how we missed ya

After a year marked by fear, divisiveness and distancing, attending the Whidbey Island Fair is the perfect way for the community to get together and celebrate.

The ever-popular event starts on Thursday and runs through the weekend.

Like every other event on the island, the fair was placed on hiatus last year because of the pandemic, but it’s back in business.

The fair, which is located in Langley, recalls both rural Americana at its best and the innocence of childhood.

The special section inside this edition of the newspaper offers a window into the fair-time fun.

For younger fairgoers — and some older ones as well — a highlight of the fair is meeting the farm animals (and other friendly beasts) and the kids who raised them. Where else can people witness contests for goat showmanship, guinea pig agility, poultry and egg perfection and swine fitting and showing?

Like county fairs across America, the 109-year-old Whidbey Island Fair’s roots are in agriculture and the rural lifestyle, but the scope has expanded.

Fairgoers will still see blue ribbons given out for perfect pumpkins and tomatoes, the most delicious pies and the most impressive quilts.

But there will also be contests involving duct tape, Legos, lumberjack skills, stick horses and bird house building. Children might meet a friendly neighborhood Spider Man or a princess while strolling the grounds.

Of course, no fair would be complete without music, carnival rides, games, clowns, hot dogs, funnel cakes and other fair food. This year has a special focus on local vendors, so grab yourself a lobster roll or two.

This year the parade will honor Gary Gabelein, a longtime South Whidbey resident, former 4-Her and indispensable fair volunteer. He helped with various contests, helped build the horse barns and is superintendent of the Antique Barn, which displays earlier farm equipment used on Whidbey Island.

It’s volunteers like Gabelein that have kept the fair alive and kicking for so many years.

Weather forecasters are predicting a nice week of Whidbey summertime weather, so everyone can look forward to a merry and enjoyable Whidbey Island Fair.

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