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Clallam County Fair

Nina Wood

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Not until I was offered the chance to attend a county fair in a small Washington state county did I realize how few county fairs, other than the one here in Middle Park, I’ve ever seen. It was quite a treat from the perspective of a former 4-H’er and open class enrollee over the course of more years than I’m going to admit.

Clallam County is on the tip of the Olympia Peninsula, in Port Angeles, an international port from which you can easily see into Canada. Sitting just outside Olympic National Park, the county includes the town of Sequim (pronounced “Squim”). Sequim is the Lavender Capital of North America and is known as the banana belt of the Olympic Peninsula. Fourteen inches of rain per year leaves lots of room for sunshine, a far cry from the mountains to the west or points farther east. Still, I wasn’t expecting to see the huge variety of the agricultural products entered, or the horses, cattle, swine, chickens, ducks, and rabbits being shown inside and outside the arenas.

Our first stop was a display of antique tractors, engines, and other equipment. Most of the antiques are well-maintained and operational. The tractors were John Deeres, whether green or yellow, large and small and red Farmalls. The motors drove old washing machines, as well as equipment linked to the logging industry that is still a large part of



that area.

Next stop, the livestock barns where the two favorite attractions were a large sow with a litter of piglets born just the day before, all 11 of them! And there was a baby miniature donkey and his mother. The owner would willingly and easily lift the baby up for the little kids to see



and pet.

The 4-H equines were engaged in their showmanship class the day we were there, including one young lady who showed a pony. After being judged on grooming and actually showing their animals, contestants were subjected to a written test. The timing was such that we didn’t remain long enough to meet the winner.

Open classes of beef and dairy cattle were in progress and demonstrations of equipment and products of various kinds were taking place around every corner. Food booths galore made sure no one went hungry or thirsty.

Judging had already taken place in the exhibit halls where photography, arts and crafts of all kinds, agricultural products, and others were displayed. Over 800 photographs (an increase of about 150 over last year) were on view. The variety of produce included a 287-pound Atlantic Giant squash and apples galore, large winter squash, beans and a colorful group of Grange displays with examples of what the area can provide. And the gladiolas and especially the dahlias were spectacular. Exceptional heat in that area this summer didn’t seem to have hurt the crops.

Particularly impressive to me was the patriotic display in one section of the arts and crafts hall where red, white and blue quilts, along with the American flag and military uniforms had been blended. The local model railroad club had taken time and energy to put up a display with two locomotives and attached cars kept two men busy making sure they ran as they should.

Lots of ideas came home with me for our own fair next year, probably not to include a 287-pound pumpkin because of the short growing season in the middle of the Rockies. No matter what part of the county they take place in, our local fairs remind us of the agricultural background fewer and fewer of us have the chance to experience firsthand, as well as a renewal, even in urban areas, of the desirability to grow fresh produce in our own gardens. Such things

are good for the body, as well as for the spirit.

Not until I was offered the chance to attend a county fair in a small Washington state county did I realize how few county fairs, other than the one here in Middle Park, I’ve ever seen. It was quite a treat from the perspective of a former 4-H’er and open class enrollee over the course of more years than I’m going to admit.

Clallam County is on the tip of the Olympia Peninsula, in Port Angeles, an international port from which you can easily see into Canada. Sitting just outside Olympic National Park, the county includes the town of Sequim (pronounced “Squim”). Sequim is the Lavender Capital of North America and is known as the banana belt of the Olympic Peninsula. Fourteen inches of rain per year leaves lots of room for sunshine, a far cry from the mountains to the west or points farther east. Still, I wasn’t expecting to see the huge variety of the agricultural products entered, or the horses, cattle, swine, chickens, ducks, and rabbits being shown inside and outside the arenas.

Our first stop was a display of antique tractors, engines, and other equipment. Most of the antiques are well-maintained and operational. The tractors were John Deeres, whether green or yellow, large and small and red Farmalls. The motors drove old washing machines, as well as equipment linked to the logging industry that is still a large part of

that area.

Next stop, the livestock barns where the two favorite attractions were a large sow with a litter of piglets born just the day before, all 11 of them! And there was a baby miniature donkey and his mother. The owner would willingly and easily lift the baby up for the little kids to see

and pet.

The 4-H equines were engaged in their showmanship class the day we were there, including one young lady who showed a pony. After being judged on grooming and actually showing their animals, contestants were subjected to a written test. The timing was such that we didn’t remain long enough to meet the winner.

Open classes of beef and dairy cattle were in progress and demonstrations of equipment and products of various kinds were taking place around every corner. Food booths galore made sure no one went hungry or thirsty.

Judging had already taken place in the exhibit halls where photography, arts and crafts of all kinds, agricultural products, and others were displayed. Over 800 photographs (an increase of about 150 over last year) were on view. The variety of produce included a 287-pound Atlantic Giant squash and apples galore, large winter squash, beans and a colorful group of Grange displays with examples of what the area can provide. And the gladiolas and especially the dahlias were spectacular. Exceptional heat in that area this summer didn’t seem to have hurt the crops.

Particularly impressive to me was the patriotic display in one section of the arts and crafts hall where red, white and blue quilts, along with the American flag and military uniforms had been blended. The local model railroad club had taken time and energy to put up a display with two locomotives and attached cars kept two men busy making sure they ran as they should.

Lots of ideas came home with me for our own fair next year, probably not to include a 287-pound pumpkin because of the short growing season in the middle of the Rockies. No matter what part of the county they take place in, our local fairs remind us of the agricultural background fewer and fewer of us have the chance to experience firsthand, as well as a renewal, even in urban areas, of the desirability to grow fresh produce in our own gardens. Such things

are good for the body, as well as for the spirit.


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