Fate of Whidbey Island Fair still up in the air

— Created May 24, 2023 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

There is some progress, but there has been no agreement reached between the Island County Fair Association, which puts on the Whidbey Island Fair, and the Port of South Whidbey’s Fairgrounds and Events Center on whether the fair will go on as scheduled this summer.

Talks between the two sides were held Monday and were mediated by officials from WSU Extension.

“We got our first steps done, but there is more work to do going forward,” said Jason Kalk, president of the fair association.

At issue is the proposed lease agreement between the port and the fair association. The lease presented to the fair association March 31 did not include the use of the Malone or Burrier Buildings, which house 87 percent of the fair’s community fair entries, such as sewing, quilts, baking, canning, etc. The fair association said the lease agreement was presented too late for organizers to come up with a solution for where to house those displays, and has not yet signed the proposed lease.

In the past, business owners who rented space at the fairgrounds did so with the understanding they would give up their space in July to accommodate the fair. The port has now offered year-round leases to businesses in the two buildings in question, with no stipulations to vacate for the fair.

With no signed lease agreement, the fair association has claimed there is a real possibility the Whidbey Island Fair could be cancelled this year.

“We really need to have something settled by the first of the month,” Kalk told Whidbey Weekly Tuesday morning. “We’re in a very short time frame as it is, so we need to make a decision quickly.”

Kalk said he expects more conversations between the two parties will happen in the coming days and said he hopes the two sides will be able to come to terms.