Above: Elizabeth Ware, 16, of Rochester, relaxes with her pigs, Cinnamon, who weighs 248 pounds, and Spice, (not shown), who weighs 275 pounds, at the Thurston County Fair on opening day Wednesday. They are about seven months old. Youth exhibiting their animals at the fair are eager to share their knowledge - ask them questions! The fair runs August 3 - 7.
By Janine Gates
The Thurston County Fair, which runs from August 3 – 7, is a microcosm of just some of the tremendous talents, interests, politics, businesses, food, and music the county has to offer.
The first Thurston County Fair was held in 1871 at Columbia Hall, now the Fourth Ave Tav, in downtown Olympia, and was called the Mutual Aid Fair, aimed to help farmers and agriculture, and to aid the development of our area by encouraging immigration.
It moved around, and later, was held in Tumwater on Cleveland Avenue, (where the Safeway is today), Chehalis, Lacey, (where the post office is today), Tenino, (where the elementary school is today), and the South Bay Grange. Finally, it settled in 1958 at 3054 Carpenter Road SE in Lacey, near Long Lake, where it is located today.
Elizabeth Ware, 16, of Rochester, will show the beauty and health of her pigs, Cinnamon and Spice, before judges on Friday, as a three year member of the National FFA Organization, a youth leadership organization better known by its former name, Future Farmers of America.
She'll wear clean, neat clothes, and demonstrate her ability to follow the orders of the judge and control her animals, gently guiding them with a stick.
There's a lot of responsibility and work involved in raising farm animals. Besides feeding and mucking out the pen every day, you must always think of your animals before yourself and provide accurate recordkeeping for an animal that is going to auction.
For Ware, this includes tracking the animal's initial cost, its purchase weight, current weight, pounds gained per day, pounds of grain fed, cost of the grain and hay, including bedding, and miscellaneous costs such as veterinary bills.
Total all that up, and hopefully, you'll make a profit when you sell the animal. Then, you'll reinvest your money and start all over again.
“I love it…I have a bond with my animals,” said Ware. That bond also extends to the butchering of her animals for consumption, as she did last week.
A few pig facts: Pigs are excellent swimmers, very intelligent and social, have a good sense of direction, have over 20 vocalizations, and run up to 11 miles per hour. Pigs have been used to sniff out landmines.
Contrary to myth, pigs eat slowly, are very clean, and do not like to sit in mud. They do not have sweat glands and roll in mud to cool off.
Above: You know you want them - warm, slightly crunchy, deep fried, caramel drenched apple rings.
On the food front, warm, slightly crunchy, deep fried, caramel drenched apple rings were served up Wednesday at the Thurston County Republican food booth by 19 year old political newcomer Donald Austin, who is running with the Republican Party for State Representative Position #1.
Austin, a student at South Puget Sound Community College who is taking prerequisite classes toward a computer science degree, said it was hard to sleep after beating out three other Democratic candidates in the primary election last night.
He will now face Democrat Laurie Dolan for the position. He said his goals are to promote the economy, create a fair and balanced education plan, and keep the Legislature from passing a state income tax.
Asked if he supports Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Austin said he has a lot of problems with Trump.
“I won’t support a lot of things about Trump – he has a history of supporting the Democratic Party, he’s friends with Hillary Clinton, and runs a strip club. That concerns me. Every Republican should be concerned,” said Austin.
Food and politics aside, there are plenty of ongoing, live demonstrations and activities related to the showing of animals, commercial vendors, carnival rides, and educational exhibits by local organizations like the Olympia Beekeepers Association.
It takes a lot of work to pull off the Thurston County Fair. Some exhibits and activities stay the same, and other features are definitely new. And if you don’t like what you see, or have fresh ideas, there are four vacant positions on the Thurston County Fair board, so get involved and help make a difference!
Above: Thurston County’s Tactical Response Vehicle (TRV) is on display just as you enter the fair. Weighing 50,000 pounds, the vehicle gets three to five miles per gallon, “...and that’s on a good day, going downhill,” joked a volunteer with the Thurston County Sheriff’s Department. Thurston County procured the vehicle a couple of years ago through the nation’s military surplus program. It was used in Afghanistan and has been used in Thurston County during several incidents.
Above: For good natured fun during the fair’s welcoming ceremony, local elected officials blew a lot of hot air to competitively move little duckies down two water gutters. After several rounds, Thurston County Commissioner Bud Blake ultimately won. Blake demonstrated a very distinctive, winning strategy of blowing in short, powerful bursts that allowed him to beat Lacey Mayor Andy Ryder and finally, as seen above, Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby.
For a full schedule of events, hours, cost of admission, parking, and free shuttle parking details, go to www.thurstoncountyfair.org. Music by the popular Oly Mountain Boys is on Friday night!