The Southwest Washington Fair is always entertaining, but this year, Saturday night will be jam packed with hours of excitement.
No one in western Washington has officially raced wild horses in decades, but that will change this year at the Southwest Washington Fair.
Starting at 6 p.m. Saturday, the 2018 Rodeo & Wild Horse Race will take place at the Southwest Washington Fair grandstands.
The 2018 Rodeo & Wild Horse Race will include a wild horse race, bull riding, saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, team roping, mutton busting and more. The wild horse race is the newest addition to this year’s rodeo.
“We were looking for something exciting and new and different to do that would be attractive to people,” said Tamara Hayes, the general manager for the fair.
Pat McLaughlin is one of the stock providers for the Southwest Washington Fair and helps to produce the event. He said it has been at least 30 years since anyone in western Washington has hosted a wild horse race.
“It hasn’t been done in decades,” Hayes said. “It also stands out as a reason to come and see something different.”
McLaughlin explained the wild horse race consists of six horses loaded in the bucking chutes at a time. Each horse has a halter and a rope attached. Six three-man teams stand in the arena with a rope.
McLaughlin said the sport mainly became less popular because of a lack of interest from contestants.
“The Native Americans have kind of rejuvenated the sport and really pushed it,” McLaughlin said. “(They) made it a well-paying event and it is somewhat of a heritage thing for the Native Americans also.”
There will be a total of 12 wild horses at the event. There are six different three-man teams that compete twice, with two different horses.
The event is sanctioned through the National Indian Rodeo Association and all of the competitors are of Native American descent.
Fans of timeless rock and roll music will get to see and hear a unique perspective on one of the best-selling bands in United States history at the Southwest Washington Fair.
Hell’s Belles, an all-female AC/DC tribute band, is scheduled to take the Saloon Stage at 8 p.m. on Saturday. The Belles have covered the extensive works of the group responsible for chart-toppers “Thunderstruck” and “For Those About to Rock” since 2000. Mandy Reed, who fills the role of longtime AC/DC bassist Cliff Williams, is the longest tenured member of the group and is looking forward to their first SWWF appearance.
“We don’t really rock like females,” Reed said. “Generally, people seeing us for the first time are curious and sometimes they’re unsure, but generally the consensus afterwards is really good, because we take it seriously. They’re our heroes. We don’t take it lightly, and it shows.”
The concert, like all 11 featured performances scheduled for the Aug. 14-19 event, is free to attend with the purchase of admission to the fair.
Reed and the Belles have toured extensively around the United States — mostly the western portion of the country — as well as stints in Canada, Japan and Singapore. Adrian Conner plays as lead AC/DC guitarist Angus Young, Amber Saxon handles the vocals originally sung by Bon Scott and Brian Johnson, and Judy Cocuzza channels Phil Rudd on drums.
“They draw huge crowds wherever they go,” said Pat Slusher, marketing coordinator for the fair. “People are excited about their appearance here.”
The Belles work a fair number of AC/DC hits into their ever-changing set list, but also try to play some of their lesser known tracks as a nod to the diehard fans in the audience.
Reed said she enjoys sharing the band’s music with people of all ages. Often times, they’ll see grandparents and grandchildren in the crowd equally immersed in the show.
“AC/DC music is timeless, so it has a wide, wide fanbase,” Reed said. “We actually prefer the all-ages shows because it’s fun up there with the kids rocking out. If we could do that all the time, we would.”