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Sixteen-year-old singer/songwriter Karen McCormick performs solo on the north stage while others play on attractions Thursday at the Spokane County Interstate Fair. (Jesse Tinsley)
Sixteen-year-old singer/songwriter Karen McCormick performs solo on the north stage while others play on attractions Thursday at the Spokane County Interstate Fair. (Jesse Tinsley)

Fair weather entices fairgoers

Classic rock blended with screams at the Spokane County Interstate Fair as the carnival rides rocked passengers back and forth.

Little children squealed as the baby goats licked their hands in the petting farm, and the aromas of kettle corn and elephant ears wafted through the food alley.

Spokane residents Dave and Rita Gunstrom were at the fair Thursday, an annual tradition for them. “I try to come every year to celebrate my birthday,” Dave Gunstrom said. “It’s just a fun day.”

The county fair ends Sunday. With a weekend forecast expected in the 80s, fair officials say the increased attendance and profits this year should continue.

Making their rounds, the Gunstroms had stopped by Creagle Concessions to find out what the deep fried butter was all about. The new fair fare was not what one would imagine; it’s a pat of butter rolled into dough and deep fried – like a doughnut hole – then topped with cinnamon or raspberry preserves.

“I didn’t think I would like it, but it’s good,” Dave Gunstrom said. His wife added, “It’s way too good.”

The usual fair food – corn dogs, cotton candy, gyros and curly fries – were also on tap. But attendees could choose healthier options such as salmon Caesar salad, shrimp scampi or gourmet wraps.

While food was one highlight to the annual event, Catherine Tapley and her mom, Patty Holschen, both of Valleyford, enjoyed the crafts. They enter every year, Holschen said.

Tapley’s son, Daniel, said his favorite part of the fair was the Ferris wheel. “It goes up and down and all around,” he said.

Roosevelt Conley, who runs a carousel for Butler Amusements, said the most popular rides are the Nitro, the Giant Wheel, the Yo-Yo (swings), the Wacky Worm – and, of course, the carousel.

“For some reason the kids have fun here, and they say thank you,” Conley said. “I have a job, and I get to see the kids smile.”

Colbert resident Suzanne Alvarez and her girls, 11, 9 and two 7-year-olds, would rather see the animals than go on the rides.

“We like to see the animals, specifically the pigs,” she said. One of the girls added that pigs aren’t pigs unless they’re “pink.”

Animals are a big draw, said Rich Hartzell, the fair’s assistant director. The addition of an expanded petting farm this year “has really taken off and been quite popular.”

This year’s entertainment, including Huey Lewis and the News, Styx and Blues Traveler, has also pleased fairgoers, he said.

Over the first six days of the fair’s run, attendance was up more than 2,000 people this year compared with the same period last year; food is up $52,608 and carnival rides are up $35,530, according to fair records.

“If you have the weather and the entertainment, that helps carry you over the edge,” Hartzell said. “We’re really happy to have this weather to wrap up the last three days.”



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