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Interstate Fair kicks off Friday

The annual Spokane County Interstate Fair starts Friday, time to indulge that once-a-year craving for funnel cakes.

Last year’s 10-day fair produced a 3 percent crowd increase from the year before, but Spokane County Interstate Fair Coordinator Jessie McLaughlin knows better than to predict the crowds will be bigger this year. “It’s all based on the weather,” she said. “We’d love to see an increase but there’s nothing we can do to make it higher or lower.”

Gates open Friday at 9:45 a.m. Admission prices are $5 for adults, $2.50 for children 7-13 and for those older than 65. On Wednesday admission is free for the 65-and-older set.

Fair Director Rich Hartzell noted the fair this year has two innovations: free WiFi inside most of fairgrounds buildings, courtesy of Wind Wireless, and paid parking.

For the first time, the fair will charge $5 for 500 paved spaces nearest the main entrance off Thor. The other 3,500 parking spaces will remain free, Hartzell said.

“We decided we needed to cover the costs we incur for the attendants in the parking area,” he said. This year that expected cost approaches $70,000.

Hartzell said free bus shuttles from Spokane Community College to the fairgrounds will run Saturday, Sunday and Sept. 19.