The sights, sounds and smells of the Kitsap County Fair and Stampede returned in full force this past weekend after a full year of planning and an urge to bring the community together again.
Last year’s fair saw only weeks of preparation time and a plethora of restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. While such rules were in place to keep attendees and workers safe, vendor workers such as Brenda Smith with the West Sound Beekeepers Association out of Silverdale said it was good to leave all those rules behind.
“It’s a lot more relaxed,” she said, “and we don’t have to keep telling people to grab a mask at the door.”
This year, fairgoers were treated to a full schedule of musical performances, rodeos and demonstrations around the fairgrounds that gave kids and adults the chance to experience different parts of the fair they may have not been able to before.
The Olympic Peninsula Antique Tractor and Engine Association from Port Orchard brought a wide variety of vehicles for an agriculture display. These included some of their feature tractors, which Dale Hardesty was excited about, saying “We haven’t really had feature tractors too much in the past, but we’re gonna start that back up.”
4-H participants also got to show off the many animals they raise. Kari Case, a mother from Central Kitsap, had her daughter enter to demonstrate their dog Okami. While so much work goes into preparing their animal for showing, Case said, “We’ve been doing it for so long, and it’s nice getting back to it. It was weird not doing it for a couple of summers.”
Not all animals of the fair were able to return as normal, as the emergence of avian influenza in Kitsap County in late June only allowed for a few birds to be shown this year. Rabbit viewing was also severely limited due to a surge in hemorrhagic disease, which is highly contagious and fatal to the creatures.
All other animals were back in, as well. Fairgoers were able to visit prize-winning livestock, sheep and pigs, among other regular attending animals. Visitors also got the chance to see other creatures that they may have not been expecting. That’s something that Smith said was awesome about having their beehive exhibit at the fair this year, and it reminds people about the importance of these smaller insects.
“If you were to go to the store and take everything out of there in the produce section that takes a bee to pollinate, you wouldn’t have much left,” Smith said.
While checking out the various exhibits, visitors were also able to enjoy the classic fair foods. Food vendors and restaurants from all over the county brought elephant ears and corn dogs, among other fried dishes for fairgoers to try.
One of these vendors was Viking Feast Ice Cream from Poulsbo, which brought homemade ice cream flavors and also let customers watch the process of making their own waffle cones. Esther Chilcutt, a vendor, said that “it brings a little bit of old world style with modern technology and all that.”
Whatever the reason for attending, folks were happy to be back at an event that people like Shaari Unger of Kitsap Fresh, which delivers fresh produce from farmers and producers in the county, say brings people together for the purpose of making the community stronger by promoting community business.