It’s fair time!
— Created July 27, 2022 by Kathy Reed
By Kathy Reed
The Whidbey Island Fair is on now through Sunday at the fairgrounds in Langley, and there is an abundance of entertainment, animals, arts and crafts, food and fun to be had.
Organizers said it feels good to be back to business as usual this year, although record crowds attended last year, and think it is the rural character of the Whidbey Island Fair that makes it a much-anticipated part of summer on Whidbey.
“I think it’s our hometown feel,” said Carol Coble, fair manager. “If you go to other fairs, they don’t look like our fairgrounds. Some are in a field and they do it with tents. We just have a very old fashioned fair feel, especially with our animals and the barns.”
Much of the fair has remained the same year after year, lending to that hometown feel. Coble said the fair association is happy to welcome back the carnival by Paradise Amusements. There will be the usual animals and livestock and the busy 4-H’ers who have raised and trained them. There will be community members who are there to see how their skills in quilting, gardening, photography, canning and baking, among other categories, stack up against other entries.
There have been a few adjustments this year. Coble said the beer garden has been expanded in order to give people “more elbow room,” and perhaps the biggest change is in how people can purchase their tickets.
“We are now [also] doing online sales for admission on our website,” she said. “You can go online while you’re in line and buy your tickets, download them to your phone, then you can get out of line, walk up to the special entrance gate down where you drive onto the property. It’s a super simple process and we’re very excited about that.”
One constant at the Whidbey Island Fair is entertainment. There are always roving performers entertaining fairgoers and there are special shows and activities to keep things interesting. There’s the annual duct tape contest Saturday at noon, for example, where participants in three different age categories try to create a winning “something” from duct tape. There’s the daily Lego contest and one of the biggest attractions is the annual fair parade, which will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday. This year’s grand marshal is Matt Nichols, president of Nichols Brothers Boat Builders.
When discussing entertainment and activities, headline acts always attract a crowd, and this year should be no different.
“There’s so many,” said Coble. “We have Hair Nation, they’re the headliner [at 9 p.m.] Saturday night; we have a band coming out of Nashville, Stairway to Zeppelin (8 p.m. Friday), they’re going to be super cool. There’s just a lot of different acts. We have some good locals, too, like PeTE the Band (5:30 p.m. Friday) and Western Heroes (8:30 p.m. Thursday), they do really good music.”
Regional Elvis Presley impersonator, Danny Vernon, will be back at the fair at 5 p.m. Sunday. Given the popularity of the recent release of the “Elvis” movie, organizers are happy to have him.
“He does it for all the right reasons,” Coble said. “He told me he just doesn’t want people to forget who Elvis was. He wants young people to understand. That’s huge.”
Marlin James will close the fair at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.
But that’s not all. There are some unique shows to enjoy as well that can really only be seen at the fair.
“We have our log show Sunday at 1 p.m. That is a big deal,” Coble said. “We have the Crazy 8 Ponies in the schedule. They do chariot races in our arena. We were lucky enough to get them back.”
Of course, much of what goes on at the Whidbey Island Fair simply wouldn’t be possible without mentioning the volunteers who step up to the plate to make sure everything gets done.
“Most of the people who help with the fair are volunteers,” Coble said. “We do pay professional judges to come in who get paid kind of a token ‘Thank you.’ But our volunteers for the fair are just invaluable. There’s such a thing as volunteer experts. Like, I don’t know how to put a quilt together. We surround ourselves with experts to help us.”
To learn more about the schedule of events, to purchase tickets and to find more information, visit whidbeyislandfair.com. The gates open at 9:30 each morning and close at 10 p.m. Thursday, 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 9 p.m. Sunday.
It’s a good year to attend, said Coble.
“Come for the community, the camaraderie, the enjoyment and getting out of the house,” she said. “The community needs to heal. Everyone is trying to come together. It’s just about feeling a sense of community, and love and acceptance.”