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North Idaho State Fair draws crowds on opening day: ‘It’s almost like we’re back to normal’

Aug. 19, 2021 Updated Sat., Aug. 21, 2021 at 3:45 p.m.

Fairgoers feel the g-forces of the Rockstar ride at the North Idaho State Fair on Friday at the Kootenai County Fairgrounds in Coeur d’Alene.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
Fairgoers feel the g-forces of the Rockstar ride at the North Idaho State Fair on Friday at the Kootenai County Fairgrounds in Coeur d’Alene. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

Alpacas, monster trucks and corn dogs: The North Idaho State Fair roared back to business on Friday to the excitement of fairgoers and their families.

“It feels really good,” said Randall Storms, an Idaho resident who was watching his son ride a children’s’ roller coaster. “It’s almost like we’re back to normal.”

The fair, which was canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will go on for 10 full days this year. It returned to its location at the Kootenai County Fairgrounds in Coeur d’Alene.

Along with rides, fried food and carnival games, the fair will have a rodeo, demolition derby and concerts throughout the 10 days. The special events were kicked off by a monster truck show Friday night.

The atmosphere at the grounds was cheery, with vendors especially glad to return to the reliable business of the fair.

“We weren’t able to do much business last year,” said Bob Crabb, a retired schoolteacher who runs the Maria’s Hawaiian Snow truck with his wife, Maria. “The past few weeks of events coming back has been great.”

The couple said that a steady stream of people showed up to the fair before it even opened at 3 p.m.

“People just seem really happy that they can stop sitting in front of their televisions and actually get out of the house,” Maria Crabb said.

But with all the high spirits, the reality of rising COVID-19 case numbers in North Idaho couldn’t be ignored.

On Tuesday, Kootenai Health postponed all elective procedures due to the overwhelming number of COVID patients at the Coeur d’Alene hospital.

Some fairgoers acknowledged the danger but didn’t see it as something that should stop them from experiencing the festivities.

“We take our precautions like washing hands, but we don’t want to live in fear,” said Desiree Rutley, a mother at the fair with her family.

Most fairgoers were not wearing masks.

The North Idaho State Fair has implemented various COVID-19 safety guidelines, including highly recommending guests wear masks and placing hand-sanitation stations throughout the grounds and one-way walkways through indoor areas.

The fair will be open daily through Aug. 29.

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