Sylvia Wood paused on a bench and took it all in.
The Ferris wheel peeked over the concession stands’ canvas roof, the scent of barbecue and fried food wafted through the grounds, and children giggled as they darted between the wandering adults.
It was by chance that Wood met her husband, Stephen, there 20 years prior. Wood, who worked as a shuttle driver, wasn’t scheduled to work that night until her friend hurt her back playing golf and asked Wood to cover her shift. Stephen’s kids dragged him to a George Thorogood concert.
Stephen rode on Wood’s shuttle and was instantly attracted to her. After the concert, he searched for Wood’s shuttle and asked for her number. Internally conflicted, she blurted it out.
Memorize it, he instructed his kids.
They did. And when she got home, there was a message on her answering machine.
Stephen died about a decade ago. Wood said she can’t remember the last time she was at the fair.
“The memories are flooding back,” she said.
A fair without flapjacks
Some fairgoers were surprised to find that the free pancake breakfast, a staple of the fair since at least 1989 (that year, Safeway ran an advertisement in The Columbian bragging that it had served pancakes to 16,000 attendees), was gone.
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 also sponsored free admission on opening day.
Scott and Carla, who declined to give their last names, have been coming to the Clark County Fair for 15 years together. They always attend the first day of the fair, showing up at 6 or 7 a.m. and people-watching. They had eggs and toast at home for breakfast and a corndog at the fair.
Third-time Clark County fairgoers and rising high school freshmen Griffin and Andre weren’t aware that there was ever a free breakfast. They had scoped out the concessions and were circling in on the deep-fried Oreos.
Terry Zimmer, who has been attending the fair off and on since 1979, was disappointed to learn of the flapjack-less Friday. It was one of his favorite parts of the fair. He skipped breakfast and was eager to check out the concessions.