The San Juan County Fair

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A once a year event, the San Juan County Fair brings back many nostalgic memories for islanders. The fairground is in Friday Harbor on Argyle, within a reasonable walk from the ferries. It starts with volunteer groups of parents and participants tidying things up in the month of August. On Tuesday the 15th, the participants will enter their projects or produce or creations into the fairgrounds and the judging will take place on Wednesday. Here are a few things you might enjoy as you meet the one event that gathers together people who live on all of the islands for their yearly competition:

4-H Events: There are many horses and the horse 4-H events will start on Wednesday. As the fair goes forward, those ribbons will be piling up on the stall doors. 4-H’ers are friendly and will answer any questions you may have. They even are judged on their behavior and knowledge as well as the animals they exhibit. They keep record book and go to meetings and help teach the younger kids how to handle their projects. Besides horses, you will find them with sheep, pigs, dairy and beef cattle, chickens and cavies, dogs, alpacas, etc.

Art and Photos: In the main building on the fairgrounds some wonderful photos and art and woodworking are exhibited from local residents. The islands have always been a popular place for artistic and creative minds and you will be able to vote on your favorite entries each day. Also, you can surmise what islanders do in their spare time and what the place looks like in different seasons and to differing ages.

What won’t you find at our county fair? You will not see so many business booths selling products, and there will not be a huge array of rides. The rides, which have to come over on the ferry, only have a small space to set up in. There are often fun rides like a huge slide which are not even mechanical. The rides wait a bit as the horse classes are in the morning and the horses can misbehave when they see the lights and noises and things whipping through the air.

Bring your appetites with you. Much of the food for sale is produced by locals or goes to local charity. A favorite is the PTA booth which sells homemade pies. Come on Saturday and you can watch the highly competitive sheep to shawl contest where the islands each have a team to spin and finish a shawl in four hours. Vote for your favorite and buy a ticket to win a shawl.

If you come early on Wednesday or Thursday you will see the garden flowers and vegetables at their best. You can get ideas about what islander’s plant and what things grow here in our weather. Speaking of vegetables, the zucchini race is another favorite event. Adults and kids turn zucchinis into vehicles and they race for best times down a ramp. This is nearly as popular as the Trashion Fashion show which illustrates attire made from cast-offs and garbage worn by islanders. This event closes out the fair on Saturday evening. We believe our local county fair is one of the best things happening in August and hope you can visit and see for yourself.

For more information check out the fair website and schedule of events:

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