Bigger And Better Hundreds Of Booths And Thousands Of Exhibits At The Fair Offer Something For Everyone

What draws more than 200,000 people over 10 days, has 273 commercial booths, 85 food booths, 15 grain booths, thousands of exhibits and offers more entertainment than anyone could possibly digest in one outing?

It’s the Spokane Interstate Fair, Spokane’s largest event of the year.

The fair kicks off today at the Interstate Fairgrounds and continues through Sunday, Sept. 17.

Organizers promise a bigger and better fair this year.

They’ve beefed up the educational exhibits, demonstrations and, especially, the entertainment. Every night has a plethora of events.

From the time the gates open at 8:30 a.m. to the time the carnival closes at midnight, there’s plenty to occupy your time.

In keeping with tradition, the fair offers all the usual attractions: numerous agricultural and livestock exhibits, a railroad exhibit, farm equipment exhibit, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeo, a carnival and a food court.

Demonstrations are always fun to check out. And there are even more of them this year. They range from soap making and taffy making to Japanese floral arranging and wheat weaving.

And for the first time, there will be demonstrations from the students of Class Acts Dance Academy and Go Ju Ryu Karate.

The exhibition areas are located all over the fairgrounds.

As was done last year, not all animals will be present all 10 days of the fair. The ones that will be there the whole time include beef cattle, dairy cows, goats, sheep, rabbits, horses, ponies and poultry.

Swine, alpacas and pygmy goats will only be on hand today through Monday. Llamas, miniature ponies and mules will be present Tuesday through Sunday.

Most of the animals during the first half of the fair (through Monday) will be presented by the youth class. The open class will show its animals Tuesday through Sunday.

If you’re going to see the animals in particular, Monday is the changeover day. This means that many of the animals will be leaving and new ones will be added. Even though most of the animals won’t exit until late Monday, don’t be surprised if you see some empty pens or stables that afternoon.

In years past, most of the livestock market-judging occurred during mornings, which kept thousands of fairgoers from seeing how the judging works. This year, judging will go on throughout the day and into the evening. Today through Monday, the fair features mostly youth class livestock. The open class comes in on Tuesday.

For those who want to see a wide range of livestock up close, a petting zoo has been erected on the grounds. The same kinds of animals featured in the exhibits will be in the zoo.

For the first year, some of the fair’s participants will set up educational exhibits. For instance, the beef industry will show beef cattle from field to table. Dairy farmers will demonstrate the process of getting milk from the source to the market.

Returning once again are the multitude of botanical displays adorning the Floral Palace. The Floral Palace also will play host to numerous arts demonstrations.

The fair will stage four major country concerts in the arena Sunday through Wednesday. Concerts include rising star Tim McGraw and Martina McBride on Sunday, top band Confederate Railroad on Monday, budding singer Kenny Chesney on Tuesday and accomplished vocalist Suzy Bogguss on Wednesday. All concerts start at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. except for Sunday’s show with McGraw and McBride, which will be at 7 p.m. only.

The fair has a special concert ticket package good for all four shows. For $20, plus fair admission, people can attend all four concerts and sit in the arena. Tickets to see just McGraw and McBride in the arena cost $10 plus fair admission.

Today’s and Saturday’s arena entertainment includes a demolition derby and an oldies concert, respectively. The demolition derby starts at 7 p.m. The concert is at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The oldies concert features Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits, Merrilee Rush, the Marvelettes and, yes, an Elvis impersonator.

Thursday through Sunday, the PRCA Rodeo muscles its way into the arena grounds. Professional rodeo cowboys will calf rope, team rope, steer wrestle, bull ride, barrel race, saddle bronc and bareback ride for a cash purse.

A slew of other personalities, from musicians and magicians to stilt walkers and comedians, will entertain throughout the fair. Many of them will roam the grounds all day. Some of the performers are Shanachie, a Celtic group; the Ron Lloyd Band, a folk/rock/country hybrid; Viento de Los Andes, a South American vocal group; Washboard Willy, a one-man show of music and humor.

The carnival, which occupies the midway lawn, opens every day at noon. Though the fair closes at 10:30 p.m., the carnival stays open until midnight.

Security promises to be tight on the carnival grounds, so children ought be able to enjoy themselves in a relatively safe environment.

Parking at the fair is free.

If you want someone else to drive, Spokane Transit Authority will run special services all day at regular rates.

Saturdays, buses will arrive and depart from the fairgrounds almost every half-hour from 10:07 a.m. to 10:47 p.m. On Sunday, buses arrive and depart from the fairgrounds every hour from 10:07 a.m. to 6:47 p.m. Finally, during the week, STA has services coming and going from the fair nearly every half-hour starting at 10:05 a.m. and ending at 10:47 p.m.

To make walking around the fair easier, free programs with a schedule of times and a map will be available at the gate.

Spokane Interstate Fair manager Paul Gillingham offers some words of advice for fairgoers.

“If you plan to come on one of the heavier days, come with a sense of humor,” he said. “If you’re going to come on one of the lighter days, it will allow you to have a little more room a little more flexibility. You’ll be able to get on the rides at the carnival a little faster and see more of the exhibits.

“A lot of people want to come out to the fair. If you come out knowing that, the fair is a wonderful time.”


This sidebar appeared with the story: WHERE TO GET FAIR TICKETS Tickets to the Spokane Interstate Fair are available at all G&B; outlets or at the fairgrounds for $6, $4 for seniors 65 and older and kids 12-17 and $2 for children under 12. Tickets to the four country concert dates - Tim McGraw/ Martina McBride on Sunday, Confederate Railroad on Monday, Kenny Chesney on Tuesday and Suzy Bogguss on Wednesday- must be purchased in a package. All acts with the exception of McGraw and McBride will play two concerts, a 4 p.m. show and a 7 p.m. show. The package for the three early concerts plus the McGraw show is $20 plus fair admission. The same goes for 7 p.m. shows. These tickets allow access to arena seats. Until the packages sell out, the McGraw/McBride concert is the only show you can buy individual tickets for. These tickets are $10.


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