Fi­nal day of state fair marred by death in mo­tor­cy­cle drag race

This is the first year the Mon­roe and Puyallup fairs over­lapped

The Daily Herald - - FRONT PAGE - By Kari Bray Her­ald Writer

MON­ROE — Just be­fore 2 p.m. Mon­day, the 2016 Ev­er­green State Fair passed last year’s mark for at­ten­dance.

A to­tal of 321,479 peo­ple had come through the gates since the 12-day fair started Aug. 25. That’s com­pared with 321,320 peo­ple last year.

It’s still a few thou­sand folks shy of the five-year av­er­age of 335,534 peo­ple, fair man­ager Hal Gaus­man said. He thought the num­ber might climb closer to that as peo­ple con­tin­ued to ar­rive Mon­day af­ter­noon and evening. It was the last day of the fair.

Among the mu­sic, an­i­mal ex­hibits, car­ni­val rides and fried fair food lunches, there also was “sad, sad stuff in a crazy happy place,” Gaus­man said. Around noon Mon­day, a mo­tor­cy­clist died dur­ing a drag race at the Ev­er­green Speed­way, the grand­stand race track at the fair. The man was killed when his mo­tor­cy­cle col­lided with a bus at the track.

The grand­stand and track were closed pend­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Sno­homish County Sher­iff’s Of­fice. The rest of the fair con­tin­ued.

The week­end was the first test to see if the ex­pan­sion of the Wash­ing­ton State Fair in Puyallup to over­lap for a few days with the Ev­er­green State Fair would di­min­ish par­tic­i­pa­tion in Mon­roe. The Puyallup fair his­tor­i­cally has started af­ter the fair in Mon­roe fin­ished, but this year it started Fri­day.

The over­lap doesn’t ap­pear to have ham­pered fes­tiv­i­ties in Mon­roe, Gaus­man said. Sun­day saw a record for 11th day at­ten­dance. As a rainy morn­ing gave way to a sunny af­ter­noon, more than 48,000 peo­ple flocked to the fair.

“Even with the Puyallup step­ping on our time, we’re do­ing just fine,” Gaus­man said. “Now if we could just con­trol the weather.”

In the end, rain or shine seems to be the main fac­tor in how many peo­ple at­tend the fair, re­gard­less of other events. Gaus­man is work­ing on a chart go­ing back a few years to track at­ten­dance along­side weather so fair plan­ners and safety per­son­nel can get a bet­ter idea of what the fore­cast means for crowds.

Kaylee Knaus, 11, and mom Tara Knaus noted that the fair did seem a lit­tle less busy on its fi­nal day than it has been the last cou­ple of years. They sus­pected the Puyallup fair might have some­thing to do with it. The mother and daugh­ter have shown beef cows at fairs in Mon­roe, Puyallup, Lyn­den, Che­halis and out of state in Reno. They’ve been at the Ev­er­green State Fair for three years to­gether. Tara Knaus used to show beef cat­tle here in the mid-1990s. Her par­ents started rais­ing cows in Acme, about an hour and a half north of Mon­roe, and now she and her brother have about 600 cows.

Annabelle, a month-old calf, was the most pop­u­lar of the 10 cows they brought to the fair, Kaylee said. Kaylee missed her sec­ond day of sixth grade so she could head to Mon­roe for the week­end. She and her mom stayed in a camper and were up by 6 a.m. each morn­ing to tend to the cows, then in bed around 11 p.m.

Out­side of the barns near the food area, a crowd of friends chat­ted and shared onion rings, a mu­si­cian walked around per­form­ing his “one-man band” act and ven­dors in bright sun­glasses handed out sam­ples of sweet SunGold ki­wis.

“Peo­ple see some­thing new in the store and don’t want to buy it if they haven’t tried it, so we want to let them try it,” said Ja­voris Ch­ester, who was direct­ing peo­ple to­ward the kiwi sam­ples. “This is one of the best events. You’ve got your fam­i­lies out here, kids. It’s for every­body.”

The strength of the Ev­er­green State Fair is that there are loyal, lo­cal peo­ple who come back year af­ter year and bring their fam­i­lies, Gaus­man said. The dates for next year’s fair al­ready have been set: Aug. 24 to Sept. 4, 2017.

ANDY BRON­SON / THE HER­ALD

Af­ter tak­ing down pa­per dec­o­ra­tions from their farm dis­play Mon­day, Maya Hartzell, 12, pre­tends to wear a cape as she runs in the dairy barn on the last day of the Ev­er­green State Fair in Mon­roe. At right is her sis­ter, Han­nah.

ANDY BRON­SON / THE HER­ALD

As rid­ers go up­side down be­hind her, Lau­ren De­moulin, 16, takes a photo of her friend Mon­day as they ride the YoYo on the last day of the state fair in Mon­roe.

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