Clark County Fair opens today

Fiddle championship adds to regular lineup

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian Arts & Features Reporter



If You Go

 What: 149th Clark County Fair.

 Where: Clark County Fairgrounds, 17402 N.E. Delfel Road, Ridgefield.

 When: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Aug. 4; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Aug. 5 and 11-12; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Aug. 6-10 and 13.

 Carnival: Opens at 9 a.m. Friday, noon all other days. $1 per ride, packages available.

 Admission: $11.25; $9.25 for seniors; $8.25 for children ages 7-12; free for ages 6 and younger.

 Parking: $6 per vehicle.

 C-Tran: Free round-trip service from all Clark County Park & Ride/transit centers. Check for full details.

 Information: or 360-397-6180.

Special admissions and discounts

Opening Aug. 4: Free admission until noon with voucher from local Fred Meyer stores; free pancake breakfast served until 11 a.m. sharp (regardless of line).

Aug. 7: Family Day, $6.25 admission for ages 7-12.

Aug. 8: Military Appreciation Day, $7.25 admission with current or past military ID. Uniformed service members admitted free.

Aug. 9: Prime of Your Life Day, $7.25 senior admission.

Aug. 11: Kids’ Day, $6.25 admission for ages 7-12.


All concerts begin at 7 p.m. and are free with general admission. Reserved floor seating (including fair admission) costs $20-$30.

Aug. 4: Old Dominion.

Aug. 5: Marshall Tucker Band.

Aug. 6: The B-52s.

Aug. 7: Melissa Etheridge.

Free grandstand entertainment

2 p.m. Aug. 8: Mutton bustin’.

7 p.m. Aug. 8: Bull riding.

2 and 7 p.m. Aug. 9: Freestyle motocross.

2 and 7 p.m. Aug. 10: Demolition derby.

2 and 7 p.m. Aug. 11-12: Tuff trucks.

2 and 7 p.m. Aug. 13: Monster trucks.

Did You Know?

• There’s no real difference between a fiddle and a violin; what’s different is the heritage and style of the music and the player. When the music has that Scotch-Irish, country-bluegrass flavor you call it a fiddle; when the music is classical or jazz, it’s a violin.

We may be Washington state, but this display of fiddling prowess will be full-on Texas.

New at this year’s 149th annual Clark County Fair is the Washington State Fiddle Championship — which is actually an all-welcome, nationwide fiddle contest in what’s called the Texas style. That means lots of improvisation, lots of drive and excitement — lots of fire, according to organizer and champion fiddler Denice Carter.

The Pendleton, Ore., native has been fiddling for four decades and teaching for three. She was long based in Denver, where she taught both fiddle and violin, and was the driving force behind the Colorado State Fiddle Championship, now in its 16th year at the National Western Stock Show and known as one of the top fiddle contests in the nation.

Carter left Colorado and moved to Fisher’s Landing six years ago, she said; she was excited because “the Pacific Northwest has sort of become the hotbed of fiddling, with people like Mark O’Connor,” a Seattle native, leading the way for a whole new crop of fantastic players. “I know a lot of fiddle players in this part of the world,” she said. (Her daughter is Aarun Carter of Portland, who recently won the title “2017 Northwest Regional Fiddle Champion.”)

And yet Carter, the founder and president of the still-busy Colorado Old Time Fiddlers’ Association, was disappointed to discover that the Washington Old Time Fiddlers’ Association appears to have slowed to a stop. (Nobody from the group responded to messages from The Columbian.) “Fiddling as an art form ebbs and flows,” Carter said.

It took a few years of flirting, but organizers of the Clark County Fair eventually convinced Carter to start a new fiddling contest as part of their annual festivities. “It’s a lot of work, but I finally got talked into it,” Carter said. “We want to put fiddling back in the public eye, as much as possible.”

The three contest judges are all from out of state, to keep it fair — and to keep growing the coast-to-coast fiddle family, Carter said. There are various divisions, including novices, “small fries,” adults and even fiddle duos. All players will accrue individual scores as the two-day contest proceeds; in the end, the top-ranked Washington state player in each division wins the certified state championship, while the top-ranked out-of-state player wins a “Pioneer” award.

The Washington State Fiddle Championship at the Clark County Fair takes place on The Columbian Community Stage, all day long (with a lunch break) Aug. 6 and 7; by the afternoon of Aug. 7 much of the competition will have been eliminated, and you’ll be able to enjoy the cream of the crop. Visit for details and the whole schedule.

Fun for everyone

The fiddle championship is a brand-new (but very natural) addition to our long-standing county fair tradition, which launched in 1868. Also new this year is Eric Haines, the One Man Band, who will join the many entertainers strolling the midway, and the Sudsy Barn — a Kaiser Permanente handwashing station that aims to keep hygiene fun for kids. (Also back is Germ City, Washington State University Extension’s long-running handwashing activity.)

What’s not new is wall-to-wall fun and games, food and music, beautiful animals and monster machines. Get ready for the return of bull-riding action and motocross stunt magic, Cowboy Boot Camp, Monster Trucks, Dock Dogs (your neighbors’ pooches in a running-leaping-swimming competition), Fair Con (a pop culture explosion of video gaming, costume play and a “Magic: The Gathering” tournament) and so much more.

As always, everything gets going bright and early Aug. 4, with free morning entry and pancake breakfast open to those who’ve picked up a free-entry voucher from a local Fred Meyer store.