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County Fair Adventure in the San Juan Islands

row of people on horseback holding american flags
Written by Toni Shiurba published on July 8, 2017

Dates: August 16th-19th, 2017

Time to smell the flowers, watch the horsemanship, vote for your favorite artist, eat homemade pie and ogle the counties biggest zucchini! It’s Fair time in San Juan County.

Listen to Bands and Local Artists

sjc fair live music Kuinka, a lively band that will start your toes tapping, are first on the main stage Wednesday, August 16th. No kidding, this music has an infectious rhythm. It’ll make you want to get up and dance!

Like Country Music? This year, the Olsen Brothers, are on stage Friday the 18th from 8 pm to 10 pm. The band gained notoriety by winning a “ Battle of the Bands” in Lake Fair, Washington. They went on to win a national songwriting contest for their song “Sunrise”. Local musicians entertain throughout the duration of the Fair, on stage near the food booths. Don’t miss these homegrown talents. They are their own Spectacular!

What’s a Fair without Carnival Rides!

Hawaii may offer tourists the opportunity to “swim with the dolphins” but the County Fair welcomes you to “ride the octopus”! Now, I don’t mean any real octopi. No way! Instead, try a thrilling run on the spinning, revolving, too-much-fun-for-some, rides in the carnival section of our fairgrounds. Kids of every age love the dizzying effects of the tilt-a-whirl, teacups, bumper cars or whatever varieties of gyrating experiences show up. There is a special “rides” day, where, for one low price, anyone can have a ball all day long.

Horses and Pigs and Chickens, Oh My

After your head-spinning adventure, take your wobbly legs to the horse arena. There you can rest your bones and get a glimpse of our incredible 4-H horse riders. These young people will wow you with their horsemanship, presentation and gaming skills. Events like pole bending, flag runs, figure eight races and the traditional Texas barrel race will amaze and delight you.

sjc fair 4HCalves, pigs and sheep have their own special times and awards. Why you can even watch the celebrated chicken race! Fact is, I’m not sure how they get them to run, but I know they do.

Or for a more laid back approach, saunter over to the Bunny Hutch or Amazing Poultry tent. Take a gander at the little beauties that our island young’uns have entered for a chance at notoriety and blue ribbons. Many times a day, you will find the accomplished owners patrolling their critters and proudly giving those interested, the low down.

Kitty corner to that tent is the small farm animal area. Sheep, goats, pigs and whatnot are awaiting your enthusiasm and admiration. There is always a lot of variety to witness here. By the way, don’t forget to walk through the horse barn where many 4-H kids and riders keep the horses they display and race with. If you are careful and allowed to, you can pet a few noses or whatnot. Just be sure to ask!

In front of the horse barn, is another covered building housing some crafts that are usually made from our wooly friends-sheep and alpaca. On the Fair schedule, you will find the traditional Sheep-to-Shawl contest. Every year, sheep are shorn, the wool is carded, spun and woven into “shawls”. Now that’s some sorcery!

What to Eat?

sjc fair food

When you’ve worked up your appetite, grab your loved ones (or go by your lonesome) to the food area. Townspeople often save themselves just to indulge in an impressive variety of tasty victuals. From buffalo burgers, salmon burgers and Thai food, to egg rolls or corn dogs, you can have your pick. Top things off with the famous, local homemade pies.

Pucker up for a pie-eating contest or wash your face with watermelon while you try to consume the most, no hands allowed. For those folks who are full of a lot of hot air, why not see if you can blow the biggest bubble in the bubble gum contest. Prizes await the winners.

Check out what you can bring Home with you

Walk through the various outside booths to peruse the jewelry, baskets, cowboy hats and assorted items for sale. Make your way into the main building for a taste of local art for sale and on display. Paintings, drawings, photographs, and wooden masterpieces are all made by islanders of considerable talent. You can see to whom the judges award blue ribbons and then select your own “people’s choice” award to nominate a creation you think deserves recognition.

The main fair building is also the home of the best pies, cakes and cookies, occasionally with a small sampling of something delicious! Outside of the main building, take time to smell the roses. Actually, fresh flowers of all varieties from local gardens compete for blue ribbons and their fifteen minutes of fame. Don’t miss these floral displays.

Learn from Master Gardeners

Alongside of the flowers, reside the vegetable entries. Don’t miss that award for biggest zucchini. It’s the real deal! And if you have gardening skills, the Master Gardeners of the San Juan Islands man a booth near these homegrown wonders. Master Gardeners from all the islands, including myself, will be there to answer your most pressing gardening dilemmas.

What Else?

Various local groups dot the fairgrounds with information booths, some touting important-to-our-islands or specific to San Juan, causes. Some are political in nature. Inform yourselves and let your opinions be heard.

Kids have their own competitions. There is a best story-writing award given and an arts and crafts section. A separate building near the main one is dedicated to kids. Boy and Girl Scouts are not forgotten either with an area set-aside just for them.

With all that you can find at our little County Fair, I think you’ll get a sense of our community and what brews our spirit of togetherness. Come and see for yourselves! The Harrison House Suites is just a few blocks away from the fair grounds and will be the perfect base for your county fair adventures.

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