Washington fairgrounds prepare for crowds and COVID mitigation

It’s that time of year again: fairgrounds across the region are gearing up to attract large numbers of people with food and craft vendors, live music and a chance for communities to gather in ways they have not been able to in a very long time. 

COVID-19 and the delta variant are looming, but fair operators believe they have systems in place to keep families safe and the show on schedule. 

The rides are coming together and the parking lots almost look like fairgrounds in Monroe for the Evergreen State Fair.

"We’re super excited," said food vendor Amber Norman.  

She spent Tuesday preparing multiple food stands on the fairgrounds. She has not been able to serve hungry people in Monroe since 2019.

"We really struggled the last two years," she said. 

"I think there needs to be a lot of compromise this year," said Evergreen State Fair division manager Jeremy Husby. "I strongly suggest that we just compromise to make sure this fair can go on."

This year, capacity has been cut shorter than in years previous. Visitors will also see hundreds of hand sanitizer and washing stations scattered across the fairgrounds. Plus, most attractions have been moved indoors.

Parking will also be free. A shortage of staff members means fair operators have narrowed their work into more critical areas. Both the rodeo and petting farm are not making a comeback this year.

County health officials are keeping a close watch on the delta variant and hope the public follows guidance closely. 

"If you’re feeling sick, don’t come to the fair," said Snohomish Health District administrative officer Shawn Frederick.

Evergreen State Fair officials say they are confident ticket holders will do what it takes to ensure the fair can stay open for a community wanting to be together. 

"I’m hoping from what I’ve seen in the Monroe community, everything seems normal," Norman said. 
I’d expect big crowds with safety precautions in mind."

Also different this year for the Evergreen State Fair: it’s only scheduled to last 11 days. Officials say that will allow staff time to deep clean the fairgrounds for the second half of the fair.

In Puyallup for the Washington State Fair, changes most people will notice also include hand-sanitizing stations and mask requirements. Similar guidance is being issued for the Kitsap Fair and Stampede, which kicks off Wednesday. 

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