The scent of fair scones, the sound of farm animals and the view of carnival rides on the horizon brought a record number of patrons to the Grays Harbor County fair this year, with 66,935 people attending the event over the course of five days — that’s 1,294 more people than last year.
Saturday was the busiest day, with 22,466 people in attendance. Fair Manager Mike Bruner said that’s a record for Saturday attendance. During the rest of the week, 11,950 people attended Wednesday, 9,038 attended Thursday, 12,855 attended Friday and 10,619 attended Sunday.
Country singer Thomas Rhett performed Wednesday night, and Bruner said the concert was this year’s biggest success.
“He’s a rising star in the country music world, and I think he put on a great show and it was well-attended,” Bruner said. “He just happened to have an opening in his schedule, and we were lucky enough to get him.”
Rhett, 24, released his debut single, “Something to Do with my Hands,” in 2012, followed by “Beer with Jesus,” both of which cracked the top 30 Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
His third single, “It Goes Like This,” peaked at No. 2 on that chart and topped Billboard’s Country Airplay chart.
And even though fair staff and volunteers are still cleaning up after this year’s event, they’re already thinking about next year, Bruner said. He hopes to see the animal barns filled in coming years, and is working on ways to spread the word about open-class showing events.
“We’re look at some ways that we can spark some interest and fill those barns,” Bruner said. “You don’t have to be a member of 4-H and FFA to participate.”
As always, the fair was successful because of sponsors and volunteers.
“The fair’s an event that couldn’t happen without those great people and organizations,” the fair manager said.