Wayne White, of Wild West Events Inc., foreground, and Bobby Rose, a Western actor, take in some target practice with BB guns at the Summer's Best Goes West exhibit at the Clark County Fairgrounds.
If you go
• What: Clark County Fair.
• When: Aug. 3-12.
• Where: 17402 N.E. Delfel Road, Ridgefield.
• Hours: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Aug. 3; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Aug. 4 and Aug. 10-11; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Aug. 5-9 and Aug. 12.
• Cost: Admission: $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $7 for children 7-12, free for kids younger than 7. Parking: $6. Ride coupons: $1 for each; $23 for 25 coupons; $70 for 80 coupons; $25 for all day Monday-Friday wristbands; $30 for all day Saturday and Sunday wristbands.
• Information: http://clarkcofair.com or call 360-397-6180.
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The whip arched in a graceful circle over Bobby Rose's head, then finished with a crack so loud that people outside the building craned their heads to take a look.
Rose, an actor in the Clark County Fair's "Summer's Best Goes West" exhibit, was practicing — and, well, maybe showing off a little — for the mock Western town's grand opening on the first day of the fair.
Cowboys never actually hit cattle with a whip, but they'd use the frightening sound to steer their herd to the left or the right, he said, walking over with a clank of spurs on pavement.
"I was practicing at home the other night and my neighbor said 'Can you give me some notice when you practice with your .22 (pistol) next time?'" Rose said. "I said I wasn't practicing with the .22 -- it was the whip."
Rose is one of a half-dozen actors who will perform with whips, guns and other historical items to bring the fair's Western theme to life.
The central exhibit, put together under the supervision of Wayne White, of Wild West Events Inc., includes lots of hands-on activities, like a chance to ride a mechanical bull, shoot in a BB gun shooting gallery or try roping a steer with a mechanical roper.
"You see the little orange thing down there?" White said, aiming his personal BB gun at a target about 20 feet away.
He then clipped the film-can-sized object with a BB.
Across from White's town, things get a little creepier.
Henry Miller of Scream Haunted Houses has set up a Haunted Gold Mine for the teen and older set with ghost miners, skeletons, spiders, bats and about 30 actors sneaking around and waiting for the perfect time to give visitors a jolt.
"Did you bring a rope, a first aid kit for snake bites and a flashlight?" Miller joked as he stood at the mine's entrance. "You'll need those basic supplies if you get lost, or, you know, fall in a mine shaft."
The fair picks a new theme each year, and Old West themes have been very popular in the past, said John Morrison, fair manager.
"Every year we try to do something a bit different, and this year we decided on Summer's Best Goes West," Morrison said. "Everything here is brand new. As far as the fair goes, I want to make it agricultural, but I also want to make it relevant and fun like this."
Booths, activities and other exhibits on the grounds will also play on the Old West concept, he said.
The last time the fair went with a similar theme was 2008, when it was called "Summer Days and Country Ways."
Along with the shooting, screaming and riding, there will also be several free stage shows near the mock Western town, including the Rhinestone Ropers, Leapin' Louie Lichtenstein and Karen Quest Cowgirl.
"There will be lots of roping and horses and all kinds of fun on that stage," said Heidi O'Hara, assistant fair director and event manager.
On a larger scale, Morrison also decided to move some of the more popular spectator events, such as Freestyle Moto X and Big Air Motorcycles, to the weekends so bigger crowds can check them out, he said.
"I had people asking 'Can we jazz up those weekends with something really popular?'" Morrison said. "So I decided we should do that."
Morrison said he's also proud that for the third year in a row, fair admission prices have remained the same. However, some exhibits cost extra, like the mine, which is $4 for regular admission or $3 each for a party of four.
This year there will also be a special Olympics Lounge, where visitors can take a break, sit on some big sofas and watch the Summer Olympics on big-screen TVs.
And the fair still has a host of 4-H exhibits, animal competitions, mini petting zoos and concerts, among other things.
"There's so much to see it's hard to talk about all of it," O'Hara said. "It will be a lot of fun."