Long lines for pancakes as Clark County Fair opens

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter


photoA line stretches several hundred feet Friday for a free pancake at the Clark County Fair on opening day.

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Fair pancakes

If you go

What: Clark County Fair.

Hours Saturday: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

• Where: 17402 N.E. Delfel Road, Ridgefield.

Admission: adults, $10; seniors 62 and older, $8; kids 7-12 $7; kids 6 and younger, free. Group packs available for admission discounts daily.

Parking and transportation: parking, $6 per vehicle; C-Tran shuttle, $2 round trip from area Park & Ride lots. C-Tran riders get a $1 discount on fair admission. C-Tran fair schedules: http://www.c-tran...

Carnival: noon to 11 p.m.; unlimited rides, $30.

Grandstands: REO Speedwagon, 7:30 p.m., tickets include fair admission; Knights of the Realm—Medieval Jousting Tournament, 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., free with fair admission.

Other highlights: Pretty Baby Contest at 11 a.m. Registration at 10 a.m.; The Pirate’s Parrot Show at 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Pets: Not permitted, except for personal service animals or those on exhibition or in competition.

Send your fair photos to The Columbian: www.columbian.com...

More information:http://www.clarkc... or 360-397-6180.

Continuing a tradition that dates back decades, Clark County Fair revelers lined up for half a mile Friday for a free pancake feed that kicked off the 10-day event.

“The line has never gone this far before,” said Jory Huebel of Seattle-based Road Warrior Paintball. The paintball stand has been at the same location near the Green Gate on the west side of the fairgrounds for the past three years.

“I am actually impressed,” Huebel said. “This is going to be a lot of people.”

Gate admission and the pancake breakfast were free from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Friday with a Fred Meyer coupon. (The grocery store has sponsored the pancake feed for the past nine years.) Guests only had to pay $6 for parking unless they took C-Tran buses to the event. Gate admission normally costs about $10.

Vancouver resident Yvette Emerson said the free event was particularly meaningful because of the languishing economic downturn. Emerson waited in line for breakfast with her aunt, Mary Smithline, and two children, 25-year-old Brittany and 23-year-old Brandon.

“This is cheap entertainment when you get in free,” Emerson said. “My husband has been unemployed for the past two years and just got work. We saved $40 for the four of us. I don’t know how families do it.”

Last year, the fair had record attendance of about 40,000 people on its first day, which also included free gate admission and pancake feed, said fair manager John Morrison. Attendance Friday was expected to meet or top that.

“The pancake breakfast has always been a significant event for the fair,” Morrison said. “It’s always been free.”

Hockinson residents Don and Irene Ginter said the pancake meal is a tradition for them. The couple, who have been together 47 years, had their first date at the fair in 1963, Irene Ginter said.

“We enjoy the fair and look forward to it,” she said. “We love to see all the people and see old friends. It’s the party of the summer.”

Some attendees arrived at 7 a.m. to be among the first to get their pancakes. Waits took about an hour. Clouds overhead occasionally gave way to momentary drizzle even as the forecast called for a peak temperature of 78 degrees later in the day.

At a row of griddles, volunteers in Fred Meyer shirts flipped pancakes. The aroma wafted through the air and mingled with the smells of other fair food such as roasted Texas turkey legs.

Fred Meyer employees cooked up about 1,680 pounds of pancake mix and 600 pounds of sausage, said Judi Swift, the grocer’s community relations coordinator. The meal was served up with 420 bottles of syrup, 5,000 pints of milk and 2,000 pounds of orange juice, Swift said,

Portland resident Sheri Afrank said she, her son and daughter-in-law waited for about an hour in line for breakfast. Afrank said she is unemployed and is grateful to be able to spend time with her family at the fair at no cost.

“It allows more people to participate in the fair,” Afrank said. “We had a tradition of celebrating my other son’s birthday here every year, so I have a lot of good memories of the fair.”

Paris Achen: 360-735-4551; http://www.twitter.com/Col_Trends; http://www.facebook.com/ColTrends; paris.achen@columbian.com.