Fairgrounds dressed up and ready to go

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The Washington County Fair is right around the corner – just as a fresh layer of paint settles on the fairground barns. But attendees can expect a lineup far more thrilling than watching the beige paint dry.


“It’s the biggest cleanup probably within the last three or four years,” said Todd Richards, fair board president. “(We) take pride in what (we) have and try to make it look best for the public, when they are coming in.”


Beginning Saturday and continuing through Aug. 16, an estimated 50,000 fairgoers will visit the spruced-up fairgrounds. At $9 a ticket, attendees can enjoy the latest renovations, including a recently painted rabbit barn, 4-H building and pottery barn. A refaced show arena features a new set of speakers.


The ticket price covers the cost of fair rides and attractions. Admission is $6 on discount days, which are Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday. Admission is free for firefighters with an ID Saturday and senior citizens ages 62 and older can attend for free Monday. Children 12 and younger will receive free admission until 4 p.m. Friday. Weekly passes can be purchased at the fair office for $30 until Saturday.


The most significant schedule alterations occur Saturday. The board decided to dedicated the day to honoring firefighters. In addition to free admission, the board organized a fire truck parade, and attending firefighters have the option of competing in the Firefighter Challenge. The obstacle course will be held in the grandstand at 7:30 p.m.


“I’m hoping that will be a nice night, because it’s something new,” Richards said.


The following night rolls out a fresh set list, including a performance from the Swon Brothers, a country band and former contestants on NBC’s “The Voice.”


The fair will also host new demonstrations. Among the newcomers are a woodcarver, who crafts a few statues per day on the fairgrounds and auctions off the pieces throughout the week.


Fire safety demonstrations will be held below the John Wade house.


Board members, including Randy Naser, hope the changes will draw larger audiences, while maintaining the fair’s hometown charm.


“We always thought of (the fair) as a big family reunion,” Naser said.


Despite the upgrades and all the attractions, the weather could play a big role in fair attendance.


“It all depends on weather a lot of times,” said Bill McGowan, another fair board member. “You got nice weather, like right now, the fair will go on great, I think.”


In addition to the Firefighter Challenge and the Swon Brothers, featured attractions include a fireworks display at 9:45 p.m. Sunday, the Pro Stock Tractors show at 7 p.m. Monday, the monster trucks show at 7 p.m. Tuesday, the school bus demolition derby at 8 p.m. Wednesday, a professional rodeo at 7 p.m. Thursday, the Street Stock Trucks show at 7 p.m. Friday and the big finale, the demolition derby at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16.


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