"}
Music

Northwest Washington Fair

A fair love affair

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

It is true that my love of the Northwest Washington Fair is no secret. It used to be a thing I became excited about a couple of weeks out—these were also the days when I would make a single visit per year to the fairgrounds in the heart of Lynden.

Maybe I was more normal back then, but I’m sure I wasn’t as happy as I could’ve been.

These days, I am in an anticipatory state for the 51 weeks a year that the fair isn’t taking place. I wax nostalgic for it during the cold winter months, advocate strenuously for it whenever it comes up in conversation and have been known to posit that it is the remedy for what’s ailing me when I’m feeling blue. It has reached the point where near strangers will approach me, usually either to share a similar love of the weeklong event, or to mine me for info—which I’m only too happy to share. This year, I’m planning no less than three trips to the fair, and no, I do not feel that to be excessive. I think it might be just enough.

I have often been asked why I love the Northwest Washington Fair so much, and my answer is always the same: It’s large enough to have decent rides (Zipper, we will meet again), big-name grandstand entertainment, and all of the fair food staples necessary for questionable culinary decisions (I’ve never met a funnel cake I didn’t want to love). However, it’s also small enough to not be overwhelming, and maintains its proud localism via exhibits of livestock, crafts, collections, etc., all culled from the area surrounding the fairgrounds, while the names of demolition derby and rodeo competitors often go back for generations in Whatcom County. Its grandstand acts may be of national renown, but all the entertainment found on the fair’s other stages (which comes with the price of admission) is sourced from our own backyard. And you can’t beat the Moo-wiches.

By the time this issue goes to press, the Northwest Washington Fair will be in full swing, with nearly 100,000 people already having visited the fine fairgrounds in Lynden. The demolition derby will have taken place (mine will be just one cheering voice in the sold-out crowd), and the PRCA Rodeo, which was rolled into the fair just this year, will be at least half over (I’m coming for you next year, rodeo).

Which leaves us with one of the fair’s biggest draws, the grandstand’s musical entertainment.

Along with many other people, I look forward with great interest to the lineup announcement for each year’s grandstand acts. The powers that be at the Northwest Washington Fair recognize fully the need to cater to a broad range of audience tastes, and have also displayed a willingness to take a chance here and there. Both of these things combine to create the feeling that nothing is off the table when it comes choosing acts and the results are sometimes remarkable.

This year, to accommodate the two nights of the rodeo, the grandstand’s musical entertainment will be compressed from four nights into three, with each act speaking to a separate part of the music-going public.

First, on Thurs., Aug. 14, is country superstar Gary Allan. The 46-year-old came to Nashville by way of California, where he began playing music as a teenager. During the nearly two decades Allan has been a professional musician, he’s amassed three platinum albums, seven gold albums and four number-one hits on Billboard’s Hot Country chart (“Man to Man,” “Tough Little Boys,” “Nothing On But the Radio,” and last year’s “Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain).” His raspy voice and outlaw country sound are a welcome departure from today’s poppier country music radio fodder, as is his ability to write lyrics that range from wrenchingly personal to stories of the everyman.

After Allan departs the fairgrounds, the grandstand stage will be taken over by none other than Huey Lewis and the News, a booking choice that only serves to reaffirm that my love of the fair is not misplaced. For 35 years, 30 million albums sold, Grammy nominations (including one win) and more chart-topping hits than a single band has any right to hope for, Lewis and his ever-present News have been entertaining fans worldwide with their user-friendly blend of rock ’n’ roll, doo-wop and blue-eyed soul. And if you think I’m not going to be in the grandstand audience singing along to “The Power of Love,” “If This Is It,” “I Want a New Drug,” “The Heart of Rock & Roll,” “Do You Believe in Love,” and more, well, you don’t know the first thing about me.

Closing out this year’s run of worthy grandstand entertainers on Sat., Aug. 16 will be Georgia rockers Collective Soul. When they first burst onto the scene with 1993’s chart-ruling single “Shine,” they seemed to be just another of the bands signed to a deal during the post-grunge frenzy that saw acts like Candlebox and Bush nab major-label deals and brief success before falling off precipitously in both album sales and general public regard. But Collective Soul quickly distinguished itself with six more number-one hits, including “December,” “The World I Know,” and “Where the River Flows.” They’re celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, and the Northwest Washington Fair is just one stop on their celebration tour.

At press time, tickets were still available for all three grandstand shows (the fact that Huey Lewis is not currently sold out is an error of ticket-buying omission by the show-going public that will be rectified at any moment, I’m sure), and since admission to the fair itself is included in the price of your concert ticket, no reason not to make a day of it and explore the incredible bounty the fair has to offer. Or you could make three days of it. I certainly won’t judge.

Ticket Cascadia
More Music...
Lynden Music Festival
Everybody cut footloose

Shortly after I moved to Bellingham all those millions of years ago, I learned it was widely believed that the movie Footloose was based, in part, on Lynden. If the finer plot point of the ’80s classic aren’t as alive for you as they are for me, allow me to refresh your memory.

In the…

more »
Ladies of the Lincoln
Who run the world?

A couple of weeks ago, the Lincoln Theatre kicked off its fall season with a concert by Maria Muldaur, an event that, among other things, prompted me to sing “Midnight at the Oasis” to my coworkers until they threatened me with a violent end should I continue to torture them with my…

more »
Bellingham Irish Festival
Creativity meets ingenuity

It’s certainly no secret that I have an affinity for musicians. Common sense would dictate that this stems from my love of music. Common sense would be correct on this point, but that’s not the whole story.

I also crave proximity to creativity, particularly any kind that exists…

more »
Events
Today
Eat Local Month

4:00pm|Bellingham and Whatcom County

A gold medal standard

4:00pm

Whatcom Water Week

10:00am|Whatcom County

Ensembulele

4:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Final After-Hours Market

4:00pm|Depot Market Square

Autumn Soups

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Tame Your Inner Critic

7:00pm|Village Books

Little Women

7:30pm|Whidbey Playhouse

Looking for Betty MacDonald

7:30pm|Village Books

The Music Man

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

The Miracle Worker

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Mount Baker Theatre Bellingham Farmer’s Market
Tomorrow
Eat Local Month

4:00pm|Bellingham and Whatcom County

A gold medal standard

4:00pm

Whatcom Water Week

10:00am|Whatcom County

The Music Man

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

The Miracle Worker

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Little Women

7:30pm|Whidbey Playhouse

Wild Things

9:30am|Whatcom Falls Park

Quilt & Fiber Arts Festival

10:00am|La Conner

Parkinson's Dance Class

10:00am|Ballet Bellingham

Spanish Storytime

10:30am|Lynden Library

Ferndale Farmers Market

1:00pm|Cherry Street

Get an edible education

4:00pm

Autumn Celebration Dinner

5:30pm|Bellingham Senior Activity Center

Love, Loss and What I Wore

7:30pm|Heiner Auditorium

Hellingham

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Handling the truth

9:35pm

CW BOB 2016 Village Books
Saturday
Whatcom Water Week

10:00am|Whatcom County

The Music Man

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Little Women

7:30pm|Whidbey Playhouse

The Miracle Worker

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Quilt & Fiber Arts Festival

10:00am|La Conner

Get an edible education

4:00pm

Love, Loss and What I Wore

7:30pm|Heiner Auditorium

Hellingham

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Handling the truth

9:35pm

Run Like a Girl

8:00am|Fairhaven Park

Model Train Show

9:00am|Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

Benefit Garage Sale

9:00am|T.G. Richards Building

Twin Sisters Farmers Market

9:00am|Nugent's Corner

Cabbage Class

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

Mount Vernon Farmers Market

9:00am|Riverfront Plaza

Anacortes Farmers Market

9:00am|Depot Arts Center

Healthcare Film

9:30am|Bellingham Public Library

Whatcom Artist Studio Tour

10:00am|Whatcom County

Fermentation Fun

10:00am|Blaine Library

Skagit Valley Festival of Family Farms

10:00am|Skagit County

Fall Fruit Festival

10:00am|Cloud Mountain Farm Center

Film is Truth Anniversary Party

10:00am|Bellingham Public Market

Fall Family Fun

10:00am|Glen Echo Garden

Birding Walk

10:00am|South Whatcom Library

Porpathon

10:00am|Salish Sea

Blaine Gardeners Market

10:00am|Peace Portal Drive

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Buddy Walk

11:00am|Fairhaven Village Green

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

National Geographic's 50 Greatest Photos Opening

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Lightcatcher Building

Banned Books Week Read-In

12:30pm|Village Books

Intro to NaNoWriMo

1:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Artist Lecture

1:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Matched Makers Opening

2:00pm|Museum of Northwest Art

Timber Rose

2:00pm|North Fork Library

Traditional Jazz

2:00pm|VFW Hall

Blessing of the Animals

3:30pm|Cornwall Park

Poetry Palavers

4:00pm|Village Books

Edison Opening

5:00pm|Smith & Vallee Gallery

Matzke Art Auction

5:00pm|Matzke Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Park

Celebrating Jack Prelutsky

5:30pm|Western Library

Fred Morrison

7:00pm|Littlefield Celtic Center

The Aimees

7:00pm|BAAY Theatre

USA Dance

7:00pm|Presence Studio

George Winston

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Folk Dance Party

7:30pm|Fairhaven Library

Tannahill Weavers

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Bellingham Chamber Music Society

7:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

see our complete calendar »

{/exp:stash:get_list} Artifacts Wine Bar Zoots Side Bar CW BOB 2016 Swinomish 2016 Northwood Steak and Crab Mount Baker Theatre Everybody’s Store Bellingham Farmer’s Market Village Books Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Andrew Subin