Clark County Fair ends with a roar

Monster trucks wow crowd on hot final day of Clark County Fair in Ridgefield

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor

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Reagan James' favorite word last week seemed to be "truck."

After the 2-year-old's parents showed him some monster truck videos, he spent the past several days saying "truck, truck, truck," his dad, Jonathan James, said.

On Sunday afternoon, the boy was sitting on his dad's lap and finally getting his fill of everything monster truck.

An announcer's voice boomed through the grandstand at the Clark County Fair in Ridgefield, asking the monster trucks on the course below to start their engines. In the stands, Reagan's mom, Kristina James, covered her son's ears. As the engines roared Reagan's eyes widened, he smiled, clapped and pointed at the show.

Their attendance marked what the Vancouver family said would be the start of a new tradition: visiting the Clark County Fair each year.

"We wanted to make sure he's old enough to kind of remember it," the boy's father said. Jonathan James said he's been to a monster truck show before, but Sunday's show was a first for his wife and son.

As the show started, Kristina James noted that the show was "loud, but it's going to be fun. I'm excited."

So was most of the crowd. Before the show, the event's emcee, Lloyd Massey, rode onto the course on the back of a pickup truck, eliciting cheers as he bellowed into the microphone with a drawn-out "oh yeah!" and "oh buddy!"

Another man shot T-shirts into the crowd as Massey encouraged audience members to earn a shirt through plenty of "whooping and hollering."

Once the show began and the first truck crested that first jump over a row of three junker cars, the grandstand erupted with cheers and expressions of awe. Several hundred spectators packed the bleacher seats in the grandstand, carefully avoiding some spots not shaded by the stand's awning.

The drivers at the show were a diverse mix. Some were rookies, and others drive monster trucks for television and film. The oldest driver was 78, Massey said, and others were in their teens. The show also included two female monster truck drivers.

Each driver got one minute at the start of the show to drive the course, then two minutes each at the show's end.

On its turn, a truck named Obsessed peeled out of its parking spot along the back of the course. Its tires kick up dirt and mud as it turned a corner and hit the row of junker cars head-on, gaining several feet of air. The next truck, T-Maxxx, started with a good run but stalled out with a smoking engine and was towed from the course.

Fair concludes

The monster truck show helped the Clark County Fair end on an exciting note Sunday, the final day of the 10-day fair this year.

In all, an estimated 265,000 people entered the fair gates this year, Clark County Fair manager and CEO John Morrison said. On Saturday, the fair had record numbers in its food court and carnival-ride areas.

Morrison said Sunday afternoon that with such a large crowd, he was grateful the fair concluded without any major incidents or injuries involving visitors.

Perhaps one of the saddest moments at the fair this year came Saturday when a horse died during a drill team competition.

Morrison said the horse, which was older than 20, was standing in a holding area waiting to enter the Dr. Jack Giesy Arena when it collapsed and died of an apparent heart attack. Officials cleared the audience and competitors from the area until the horse could be removed.

"I feel very sorry for the owner and their loss," Morrison said of the horse's death.

Overall, however, the fair was a success, he said. For the most part the weather cooperated, and the fair provided some of the best entertainment its ever had, including a new sea lion show — Sea Lion Splash — which "was much more popular than we expected," Morrison said.

"We just had a really great run this year," he said.