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Aug. 14, 2022

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Clark County Fair ‘worth the wait’

Canceled by COVID two years running, ’Summer’s Best Party’ makes its return

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
8 Photos
Hand-washing stations and sanitizer will be prominent on the grounds.
Hand-washing stations and sanitizer will be prominent on the grounds. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

After COVID-19 hijacked Summer’s Best Party two years in a row, the Clark County Fair is back and “Worth the wait.”

The 152nd edition of the fair is set to take place Aug. 5-14. This year’s slogan — “Make it worth the wait” — provides a glimpse into the efforts by Clark County Fair Manager John Morrison and his team to revamp this year’s festivities.

“We did a lot of planning for this fair since there have been two years without it,” Morrison said. “We wanted to add value, we did not want to increase the gate price at all, and we wanted to upgrade some of the things people are used to seeing.”

This year’s highlighted attractions include a NASCAR race simulator used by professional drivers; Wild Science!, an interactive science and technology attraction; and two new carnival rides, the Typhoon and Century Wheel. Traditional fair favorites including Dock Dogs, Tuff Trucks and the concert series will also make their long-awaited return.

Handling the pandemic

Despite nationwide inflation, admission will cost the same as in 2019.

“One of the things that I’m proud about for this fair is that when you come on the grounds, you can do everything that’s on these grounds for free, unless you eat it or ride it,” Morrison said.

Because of the significant amount of scheduling and preparation required in advance, the fair shut down all operations in May 2020. It was canceled again for the 2021 fair, instead holding a “Family Fun Series,” a variety of smaller, separate fair events split over multiple days.

Now that the threat of COVID-19 has lessened, prices are a problem.

“Inflation has really, really had an effect on us,” Morrison said. “We’ll know a lot better at the end of the fair. Then we’ll have a much better idea of what inflation has done for us.”

Staffing this year’s event crew has proven difficult. Morrison said that there have been multiple cases where those who applied to work at the fair have backed out, causing staff numbers to fall behind. Usually a combination of volunteers and hired staff takes care of projects like cleaning the Event Center each evening after the fair closes. This year Morrison has had to come up with another solution.

“In a couple cases we have substituted what we would normally have for staff by hiring an agency to do it,” Morrison said.

Clark County Fair

Tickets

$11.25 for adults.

$9.25 for seniors 62 and older.

$8.25 for children ages 7-12.

Free for children 6 and younger.

Hours

  • Rides open at noon daily, with the exception of starting at 9 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 5.
  • Barns close at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 9 and Sunday, Aug. 14.

Sunday, Aug. 7 to Thursday, Aug. 11: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 12 to Saturday, Aug. 13: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 14: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

 

Discount Days

  • Monday, Aug. 8: Family Day. Admission is $6.25 for kids ages 7-12; kids 6 and younger are free.
  • Tuesday, Aug. 9: Military appreciation day. Admission is $7.25 per person for current and past military, with military I.D.
  • Wednesday, Aug. 10: Prime of Your Life Day. Senior admission is $7.25 for those 62 and older.
  • Thursday, Aug. 11: Kids’ Day. Admission is $6.25 for ages 7-12, 6 and younger free.

Getting there

Parking: $8 per vehicle, cash or card. Sold onsite. No reentry.

C-Tran: Free shuttle service to the fair from locations across Vancouver, Battle Ground, Ridgefield, La Center and Fisher’s Landing. For details on scheduling and pickup sites go to https://www.c-tran.com/fair.

Rides

$1 per ride credit.

$35 for wristbands onsite or online.

Rides require 3-5 credits per person.

 

The fair has also increased attention to safety procedures in the continued presence of COVID-19. Additional cleaning stations, coupled with signage, will be prevalent throughout the grounds. Proof of vaccination will not be required for entry and masks will be optional per current state guidelines.

“We certainly have a heightened awareness to public health aspects,” Morrison said. “You’re going to see a lot more attention given to hand-washing stations, to being, you know, safe around animals, around foods or things like that.”

Hungry for business

John Sullivan has overseen Sullivan’s Burger Buggy at the fair since 1973. The family-operated stand opens only for the fair and is widely known for its fresh ling cod fish and chips and “Man Burger” sandwich, comprised of two meat patties, ham, cheese and fresh condiments served on a Franz bun.

Sullivan said the increased cost of fish and meat have forced their hand in raising prices. He recalls buying fish for 79 cents a pound when the stand first opened in 1973. Now, a pound of ling cod costs more than $11.

“I hate raising them,” Sullivan said. “I’ve held the prices a long time, and I just couldn’t do it this year.”

Clark County Fair Grandstand event schedule

Friday, Aug. 5: Daughtry at 7 p.m. in the RV In Style Resorts Grandstand. Free seating available.

Saturday, Aug. 6: Cheap Trick at 7 p.m. in the RV In Style Resorts Grandstand. Free seating available.

Sunday, Aug. 7: Martina McBride at 7 p.m. in the RV In Style Resorts Grandstand. Free seating available.

Monday, Aug. 8: Blood, Sweat & Tears at 7 p.m. in the RV In Style Resorts Grandstand. Free seating available.

Tuesday, Aug. 9: Mutton Bustin’ at 2 p.m.; Hell on Hooves Rodeo at 7 p.m. (Mutton Bustin’ finals during 7 p.m. event.)

Wednesday, Aug. 10: Demolition Derby at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 11: Side by Side Racing at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 12 and Saturday, Aug. 13: Tuff Trucks at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 14: Monster Trucks at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

This year the Burger Buggy installed a new employee hand-washing sink to reinforce cleaning procedures. Sullivan said the structural change was the only addition to the stand’s preexisting cleaning regulations.

Staffed by family members and close friends, the Burger Buggy has become part of the Sullivan family fabric. Sullivan said he eagerly anticipates the community the fair brings together.

“Seeing my family and all our friends,” Sullivan said. “Same as every year. It makes us do it.”

Mary Meyers, superintendent for the fair’s open class baking and food preservation competitions, has been involved with the fair for the past 20 years. She said she is most excited about reuniting with friends she hasn’t seen since 2019.

“I missed the people,” Meyers said. “I missed everything about it. I’ve got people that have always brought things in since I started 20 years ago.”

Clark County Fair By the NUMBERS

36 inches tall: You must this tall in order to ride any carnival rides

48 inches tall: To ride the major rides

7,500 free seats in the grandstand

ATM locations: Exhibition Hall Lobby, Blue Gate on the east side, Food Court and Green Gate on the west side

250,000: People who attended the 2019 fair

100 feet: Tallest ride, the Giant Wheel

17,000 milkshakes sold by Clark County Dairy Women each year

43 food booths on the fairgrounds

32 feet, 10 inches: Distance of 2019 Dock Dogs Big Air World Record jump

1,200 butterflies in Butterfly Adventures exhibit

190 simulated speed, in mph, of NASCAR simulator

The fair has added entertainment to the west end of the grounds, historically known for its housing of agriculture and 4-H competitions. Exhibits include a new, informative pirate-theme parrot show and the return of Brad’s World of Reptiles and Butterfly Adventures, one of the few interactive butterfly exhibits on the West Coast.

“I’ve always said I want to keep the fair agricultural, but I’ve always said I understand I have got to keep it relevant,” Morrison said.

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