Northwest Washington Fair

Nothin’ but a good time

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

By now, everyone knows I love the Northwest Washington Fair. It has been suggested to me that perhaps I love it too much, an idea at which I usually scoff.

However, the other day, I found myself describing the many myriad wonders the annual event has to offer to a Bellingham newcomer, ending my impassioned speech with “and one year I even saw a goat costume contest!” That’s when I began to entertain the notion that those who have mocked my fair ardor might be on to something.

But then I considered all the Northwest Washington Fair has to offer—along with the aforementioned goat costume contest, that is. Games of chance, smoked turkey legs, MooWiches, vendors selling things wacky and wonderful, cats in dioramas (for real), MooWiches, bricks of French fries, jugglers, draft horses, funnel cake, airbrush and glitter tattoos, MooWiches, bingo, old-timey photographs, oversized buttons, political candidates, MooWiches, baby farm animals, fresh-squeezed lemonade, karaoke, exotic poultry, impressively large tractors, and MooWiches. In addition, the people-watching is unparalleled.

You might’ve noticed I didn’t mention the rides, which are an integral part of any fair experience. Indeed, the Lynden Fair has them, and this year, they’ll come courtesy of Funtastic Traveling Shows, the region’s largest provider of carnival rides and games. This is a change from previous fairs, and I’m excited to see what modestly priced thrills Funtastic has in store for me.

Of course, what draws a goodly number of the estimated 200,000 people who will make their way to Lynden during the week of Aug. 13-18 for the Northwest Washington Fair is the Grandstand entertainment. As has become typical, the fair kicks off with a crash—or a whole lot of them, as the case may be—on Mon., Aug. 13 with the demolition derby. The day features two demo derbies, an afternoon version beginning at 12:30pm and the finals at 7:30pm. The latter has been sold out for weeks, but at press time a limited number of tickets remained for the afternoon event. Tuesday and Wednesday are given over to the Lynden PRCA Rodeo, an event popular enough that it was expanded from one day to two several years ago. Barrels are raced, broncs are busted and bulls are ridden at 7:30pm each day and tickets for both are still available.

After that, it’s time for a little musical entertainment.

I always eagerly anticipate show announcements for the Northwest Washington Fair, mostly because I have no read from year to year on who organizers might book. From Weird Al to Ted Nugent to Huey Lewis, it could be just about anyone. Like, say, Bret Michaels, who will make his Lynden debut at 7:30pm Thurs, Aug. 16.

Given that I’m a child of the 1980s who grew up in Everett, I am definitely conversant with Michaels’ catalogue. As the frontman of Poison, he belted out such songs as “Nothin’ But a Good Time,” “Talk Dirty to Me,” “Unskinny Bop,” “I Want Action,” and somehow turned the Loggins and Messina song “Your Mama Don’t Dance” into a hair-metal hit. However, the true monster of his set list is “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” and I’m guessing Michaels wills save his chart-topper for the encore to get all of the power possible from what is quite possibly the hallmark hair-metal power ballad.

Into every Northwest Washington Fair a little country music must fall and so it shall be this year on Fri., Aug. 16 when High Valley plays the Grandstand. Given that I drive a nearly 25-year-old car with an equally old stereo, I only get radio in my ride. When I grow restless with local radio and Top 40, I cruise on down the dial to the one Canadian country station I can receive. So, when I learned that High Valley would be performing in Lynden, I actually knew who they were. The tall-drink-of-water Canadian duo of Brad and Curtis Rempel is responsible for a couple of current country staples, a lively neofolk-with-twang song called “Make Her Mine” and “She’s With Me,” which is dying to have a prominent spot in the soundtrack of a popular romantic comedy if it hasn’t already.

A lot of Grandstand entertainers would probably prefer the audience didn’t laugh at them, but that is not the case for this year’s final performer. In fact, if you’re not laughing, he’s doing something very wrong. Because comedian Jeff Foxworthy has been making people laugh for nearly half his life with his standup routines, The Jeff Foxworthy Show, as the host of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader, and as part of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. He’ll no doubt bring a new series of the “You might be a redneck if” one-liners that have made him famous, but if you don’t act fast, you won’t be able to hear them as preferred seats are sold out and only reserved seating remains.

Now that I’ve given the rundown of the bountiful delights of the Northwest Washington Fair, I no longer question my love of the annual tradition. However, you’re welcome to pick my brain about it—but you’ll have to come find me at the fair.

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