By Amy Rowley
In 1871, Captain Percival walked into the Thurston County Fair. He exhibited a bucket of cranberries and a blackberry branch 17’ long. Other exhibitors showed their best section of wooden water pipe or cooked up award winning oatmeal.
After almost 150 years of cultural, economic, and technological advancement, the integral purpose of the Fair is still the same as it was in the original days. Participants continue to spend countless hours preparing their contest entries and the Fair serves as the culminating project for thousands of 4H and FFA youth development programs.
But, while you can still count on the fair to have the animals, exhibits, carnival rides and enough fairtime food to feed a horse, there are brand new events on tap in 2013 that are sure to keep the fair fresh and make it fun.
Savor South Sound Beverage Tasting
“The Commissioners are working very hard to breathe new life into the Fair,” says Becca Pilcher, assistant to Commissioner Romero. “There are great efforts underway, this year, to make the Fair sustainable.”
Savor South Sound is one of those efforts. Beginning on Thursday, August 1, fair goers will have the chance to taste locally crafted beer, wine and cider. Pilcher notes that the three-day Savor South Sound event is intended to bring new people to Fair as well as provide a fresh activity for repeat visitors.
This will be the first year that the Fair has served alcoholic beverages during fair week. “The beverage tasting event is new this year, but it actually harkens back to the traditions that make county fairs so special,” says Lucas Patzek, Director of Thurston County WSU Extension.
“Before Washington was even a state, county fairs were sometimes the only time each year when farmers, craftsmen, and businessmen could market and showcase their products. Our goal with the Savor South Sound is to tap into that tradition and celebrate what’s growing and brewing right here in our own backyard. Hopefully it’s the start of a new tradition here at the Fair,” says Patzek.
“The cider industry is really taking off locally,” says Pilcher who is exceptionally excited about the five cider producers who will be sharing their beverages on Thursday.
Savor South Sound ticket holders should look for Whitewood Cider Company. The Thurston County cider makers debuted their first blends in May, squeezing 1,100 gallons of juice to create a fine craft product. As owners Dave White and Heather Ringwood like to say “grow local, ferment local, drink local.”
Local beer producers Fish Tale, Dick’s Brewing, and Grove Street Brewing will be pouring tastes on Friday. Local wineries Scatter Creek, Black River, Stottle, and Mill Lane will be sharing a glass on Saturday. Additional delectable drinks from other producers will also be featured during the Savor South Sound event.
In addition to the tasting, Patzek is incorporating an educational component during the day time hours. Workshops begin on Wednesday, July 31 and continue through Sunday, August 4. Each day will feature a different agricultural topic such as living foods, grains, fruits, and shellfish. Look for more workshop information once inside the Fair.
Savor South Sound will be entertaining visitors on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 3:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Try ciders on Thursday, taste beer on Friday, and sip wine on Saturday. For the price of the ticket ($20 in advance, $22 at the door), you receive entry into the Fair, a commemorative tasting glass, and tastes from each producer.
To purchase tickets for Savor South Sound, click here.
Live & Local Music
If you are looking for even more reasons to visit the Fair this year, then consider the line-up of local entertainers that will be delighting crowds with their tunes during the “Live & Local” music series. Count on live music beginning on Wednesday evening throughout the weekend.
“The Olympia area is home to many popular and talented musicians with large local followings,” says Danielle Westbrook, assistant to Commissioner Valenzuela. As a local musician herself, Westbrook is intimately familiar with the wealth of musical influence in this community.
“The entertainment committee of the Fair Board wanted a fairly well-known country music band to play on Saturday night. Aces Up is a band out of Enumclaw that is making its way to the top in quick order,” describes Westbrook.
Westbrook also encourages people to come out on Friday night to hear Olympia’s own Brown Edition who just won an Independent Music Award for their new album.
“These are highly sought-after bands right here in our own backyard,” adds Westbrook when reflecting on the line-up of music groups. “Sour Owl has been rocking the scene for years. Our local music scene is exciting and should be celebrated.”
Westbrook adds that the musical entertainment is suitable for all ages. “One way we’re going to get kids passionate about playing music is to expose them to all different genres. The musicians they will see at the Fair are people they can rub shoulders with here in our community,” she summarizes.
More information about the “Live & Local” music series, including a complete list of performers, can be found here.
Visit the Thurston County Fair website for more information on Savor South Sound tastings, the Live & Local concert series, and for all of the events, entertainment and exhibits at the 2013 fair.