Gates, parking top list of concerns for county fair leaders

OKANOGAN – The Okanogan County Fair Advisory Committee approved to make changes to vendor contracts during a regular meeting Thursday, July 12.

The fair used to offer two free season passes, and the option to purchase two additional fair passes and half price to vendors.

But representatives from the county treasurer’s office said that could become a state audit nightmare.

The committee decided to change the contract to offer three free passes to food vendors and two passes to other vendors

“If we make it harder, they won’t come to our fair,” committee member Wanda McFarland said.

“I think two wristbands included,” Committee Chairwoman Tracey Reagles said. “Period. None of this half price stuff. Two season passes. Period.”

In other business, Okanogan County Commissioner Andy Hover said the new bathrooms should be operational by this year’s the 71st annual fair, Sept. 6-9.

“Yes, it will be operational by fair,” Hover said.

The new bathrooms – adjacent to the poultry barn – were constructed last year but were not operational during the fair.

Reagles said committee members toured the fairgrounds last week, but there was no water in the bathrooms.

“The contractor had to go back and fix some things,” Hover said.

Hover also reported the county should be receiving a new tractor that has been purchased for the fairgrounds.

Committee members also talked about entrances to the fair and possible changes.

“Right now, we’re kind of in negotiations for gate people, but we can only have two gates,” Hover said, adding the south-end gate would be used only as an exit. The main gate and north-end will be paying gates.

Reagles reported the entertainment stage will also be moved from its current location, to a spot between Jones Hall and the Agriplex, with performers facing west.

“Now when they come in that other gate the walk straight in and all they see is RVs, bathrooms,” she said. “It like they’re not entering the fair.”

Committee member Kris Sims echoed that, noting it was better “curb appeal.”

In other business, the committee:

• Discussed the idea of a historical display in the Commercial Building.

Committee member Kathleen Maltais said she has been in contact with an artist formerly of Brewster, now of San Diego, to provide historical paintings of early day Okanogan County pioneers in the Commercial Building.

“He’s agreed to come up from San Diego,” Maltais said. “He needs 200 feet of space to display these. He’s doing this free of charge.”

She said the artists would, however, need a free camping space from Aug. 30 to Sept. 10.

“He’s doing everything else free of charge, so we need to do that,” she said. “I consider him to be an entertainer. What he’s doing is he’s putting on a show.”

Maltais said she has also spoken with another artists from Wenatchee and Arnie Marchand of the Oroville Borderlands Historical Society about bringing in historic artifacts.

“I haven’t approached the Okanogan County (Historical Society) museum,” she said. “If we pay them something I’m sure they will come.”

• Learned that the vendor who displayed bugs will not return this year to the Agriplex because the fair will have a beer garden again this year.

“Bug man is angry because of beer garden; (he) won’t return,” Reagles said

• Heard an update on fair advertising from committee member Carol Sivak.

Sivak said she has attended several parades promoting the fair. Plans are also under way to have black and white yard signs.

• Discussed age requirements to show livestock.

Goat barn assistant Jessica Wilson said three to four children younger than 4 have registered to bring goats to the fair. The rules in the premium book state children must be 4 years of age or older to show goats.

“It says very, very clearly no one under the age of 4 can show,” committee member Erin White said.

“The rules are the rules,” Reagles said.

McFarland chimed in, noting youngsters can show a calf and questioned how that is different.

It was pointed out that goats have horns and can often have an unpredictable behavior.

Committee members will meet again at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9, in the Okanogan County commissioners’ hearing room at 123 N. Fifth Ave.

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