Clark County Fair enthusiasts can find consolation in the Family Fun Series that kicks off Friday with Tuff Truck races and continues into August with a 10-day carnival.
This is the second year in a row that the coronavirus pandemic led to cancellation of the county fair, which typically draws about 225,000 people over its 10-day run.
Staging events separately keeps crowds down and reduces the risk of COVID-19 transmission, fair officials said.
“When our promoters approached us with their ideas for stand-alone shows and events, we thought our community would appreciate the opportunities,” said John Morrison, CEO of the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds, in an announcement.
- At 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Tuff Trucks will tear up the track at the fairgrounds grandstand. Contestants will race their rigs around a dirt track filled with jumps, bumps and mud holes. The grand-prize winner will pocket $2,000.
- At 2 p.m. Sunday, Monster Trucks have their turn, with appearances by some of the West Coast’s most popular big-wheeled behemoths, including Enforcer, Maniac, Double Trouble and T-Maxxx.
- On Aug. 7, the Hell on Hooves Rough Stock Rodeo will showcase top bull and bronc riders, as well as a mutton bustin’ competition with children clinging to bucking sheep.
- From Aug. 6-15, Butler Amusements will run its carnival rides until 11 p.m. daily.
In May, when the fair board announced this year’s cancellation, it was unclear whether the pandemic would resolve in time — and it hasn’t. The state fully reopened June 30, but COVID-19 cases are surging again. Only 55.5 percent of eligible Clark County residents (those 12 and older) were fully vaccinated as of July 24, the most recent data available from the state Department of Health.
“It’s important to understand that the fair is a yearlong process of planning,” Morrison said.
Given the uncertainty, “we shifted into event center mode,” said Jim Beriault, public relations manager for the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds, the complex on Northeast Delfel Road that includes the fairgrounds and exhibit halls. (It operates in conjunction with the fair, with Morrison leading both.)
Promoters of the motorsports, rodeo and carnival events that are usually part of the fair had already slated dates at the event center, and asked if they could go ahead as planned, Beriault said. The Family Fun series is the result.
Beriault said he has heard from fair enthusiasts who worry that 4-H youth won’t have their chance to show their animals, but they will — just without an audience.
Missy Cummins, WSU Extension’s 4-H regional specialist, said clubs are still showing their horses, dogs, cats and other animals at the fairgrounds.
“It’s not open to the public,” she said. “We’re trying to make sure the kids are safe.”
She added that 4-H clubs with sewing and other projects usually displayed at the fair will have the chance to participate in virtual showcases, or they can exhibit at the Washington State Fair in Puyallup, which runs from Sept. 3-26.
The Clark County Fair is scheduled to return Aug. 5-14, 2022.