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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Northwest Passages, S-R host readings, conversations, demonstrations at Interstate Fair stage

Fairs are known for lots of things. Their ability to come up with inventive ways to spin, drop and otherwise jostle their visitors. Their ability to compel city dwellers to brave the smell and marvel at examples of local agricultural achievement. Their ability to bring your favorite band from high school, a daredevil high diver, as well as a large group of racing pigs to the same parcel of the land … all on the same day.

And, of course, their ability to convince people to trade cold hard cash for the small chance of winning a large stuffed animal in a game that sure seems rigged. Or at least way harder than it looks.

One thing fairs typically aren’t known for is their bookishness.

But maybe that’s beginning to change. At least in Spokane.

The Spokesman-Review and the Northwest Passages Book Club will host, for the second year in a row, a series of readings, conversations, tutorials and demonstrations with everyone from country music legend Trace Adkins to Spokane Mayor David Condon at the Spokane County Interstate Fair.

All fair-goers are welcome at the four-day series of events hosted on the newly renamed Northwest Passages Stage, but those who have attended previous Northwest Passages events will be rewarded for their attendance with free admission to the fair.

On days the fair features a Northwest Passages event hosted by the newspaper, 200 of the more than 4,000 book club members will be able to print a ticket voucher at, bring it to will-call and be admitted to the fair at no charge.

The timing for the book club events this year is auspicious, with the fair kicking off on what happens to be National Read a Book Day. To celebrate, a slate of notable locals will do exactly that: read a children’s book aloud. Storytime starts at the Northwest Passages stage at 11 a.m. Friday.

Mary Cullinan, president of Eastern Washington University, will read “Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type,” while S-R Editor Rob Curley will share “Mr. Peabody’s Apples” and Spokane police Chief Craig Meidl will present “Officer Buckle & Gloria.”

Gonzaga women’s basketball coach Lisa Fortier will read “I Will Be Fierce.”

KHQ meteorologist Blake Jensen will read from the classic “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” and Ryan Dean Tucker and Sean Glasgow from Lilac City Live will share selections from Steve Martin’s “Cruel Shoes” and “The Hobbit.” S-R columnist Julia Ditto will read “The Seven Silly Eaters.”

After that, things will move to a more traditional fair theme, agriculture, when S-R metro editor John Stucke and reporter Thomas Clouse sit down with Scott Yates, communications director for the Washington Grain Alliance; Michelle Hennings, a Ritzville-area farmer and executive director of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers; and Marci Green, a Fairfield wheat farmer and past president of WAWG. They’ll discuss this year’s crop, pesticides, genetically modified wheat and global pressures and competition on the wheat trade.

For those looking to capture the visual magic of the fair, longtime Spokesman photographer Jesse Tinsley will offer advice on how to take pictures, even just using a phone, at the fair. He’ll also share stores behind iconic S-R photos.

After taking the weekend off, The Spokesman-Review and Northwest Passages will reconvene next week with three more days of book- and journalism-related events.

Monday will feature a live news meeting where the newspaper’s top editors will pick the next day’s front page and answer questions about their process as well as offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how the paper’s design and illustrations come together. The next day’s front page will be built live on video boards at the Northwest Passages by design editor Chris Soprych.

Chef Jaime Aquino from The Kitchen Engine will host a cooking demo on Tuesday, while Curley will show fun scenes from many journalism-related movies and explain the about the real-life background that inspired them.

On Wednesday, officials from Fairchild Air Force Base will be on hand to discuss the facility’s past and present while the S-R’s sports staff will discuss WSU football and the upcoming Gonzaga basketball season.

And who knows who else might stop by. Maybe your favorite band from high school, so if you have tickets to see a band like that at the fair, make sure to stop by the Northwest Passages stage at around 5 p.m. before you head to the grandstands. No promises, but those kind of surprise interviews did happen last year.