The pandemic forced the fair’s closure for the first time last year since World War II.
Fair officials are calling this year’s return Back in The Saddle, but 2021 operations will look very different. Guest capacity will be cut and sanitation is also a big focus. Not only is the fair coming back this year, but so are hundreds of part-time jobs.
"I built it on the side of the road," said Ronald Gilkison, describing an image from his car-racing past.
Ronald Gilkison competes in the hornet class and has for 15 years at the Evergreen State Fair. His latest car is emblazoned with the number 11 on the door and he hopes to hit the track later this August.
The old Suzuki has a name: Stimulus.
"It took all my stimulus, it took all my stimulus money and it’s stimulating our economy and stimulating me."
He hopes to qualify his car to race during the Evergreen State Fair this summer.
"That’s what I’m hoping, is that the fair is back and fans are in the stands," he said.
The fair is scheduled to be open for eleven days from Aug. 26 through Sept. 6.
Paying for fair tickets, parking, food and rides will be all cashless this year. Guest capacity will be capped to 9,000 people each day.
Livestock and farm animals have also been a staple for the Evergreen State Fair in years past. The handwashing and sanitation guidelines surrounding live animals sharing close proximity with people will also be expanded into the rest of the fairgrounds to combat coronavirus.
"That’s one of our biggest challenges, communicating expectations," said fair manager Jeremy Husby.
Wandering through exhibition halls will also change this year, requiring fairgoers to follow dedicated entries and exits.
Now that large events like the Evergreen State Fair are planning to reopen to the public, Gilkison hopes it is a sign that normalcy is around the bend and his family can witness number 11 take the checkered flag.
"It could be one of the only times they see me doing something like this again," he said.
Capacity limits are based on the fair’s typically busiest days in memory. The cap could change with new information from Governor Inslee’s office and public health guidelines.
Four hundred part-time jobs will likely need to be filled for the fair's opening on Aug. 26.
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