Prices are up and free pancakes are out, but the slogan for this year’s Clark County Fair promises that it’s still “where farm meets fun.”
“It’s a great entertainment opportunity for anyone who wants a family-oriented day with a wide variety of things to do,” said John Morrison, Clark County Fair manager.
The fair’s return last year after a two-year pandemic pause met an appreciative audience. Attendance in 2022 reached 285,500, about 14 percent higher than the last fair before COVID-19.
This year’s fair, which begins Friday and continues through Aug. 13, brings a few tweaks.
Adult admission is up from $11.25 last year to an even $12 this year. Morrison said that’s to cover rising costs and eliminate the need for coins at the ticket booths.
And gone is the free pancake breakfast that has been a tradition on opening day of the Clark County Fair since at least 1989. (That year, Safeway ran an advertisement in The Columbian bragging that it served pancakes to 16,000 fairgoers.)
Fred Meyer, which later took over sponsorship of the opening-day breakfast, decided earlier this year to forgo the free flapjacks in favor of writing a check for $10,000 to the Clark County Food Bank. The supermarket chain is still sponsoring free admission on opening day, however. Today is the last day to snag a coupon at participating Fred Meyer stores that’s redeemable for free entry to the fair between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Friday.
The popular diving-dogs competition is back complemented by other doggy-related fun in the same corner of the fairgrounds, near the blue gate on the east end. Dubbed DogTown, visitors can watch various dog competitions from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“That change was made so there would be activity all day long,” Morrison said.
Visitors will notice changes in the food court, as well. The proprietor of Patrick’s Hawaiian Cafe retired, Morrison said, so that booth won’t be back this year. A new booth will serve banh mi. Daddy D’s Southern Style BBQ is also joining the offerings.
In the buildings next to the food court, visitors will find the Wizard’s Challenge.
For example, he invites kids ages 2 to 12 to pick up a Passport to Fun. It’s a little cardboard fan with activities to complete, like visiting animal barns, to earn stamps that can be redeemed for a prize.
“A fair ought to be fun,” Morrison said, “and it ought be about the farm.”