A Look at Attendance at the Thurston County Fair After Two-Year Absence


The Thurston County Fair, which operates near Long Lake for five days in August, attracted about 15,000 people after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, according to information shared with The Olympian on Tuesday.

Fair coordinator Theresa Reid could not be reached, but county spokeswoman Meghan Porter compiled some data about the 2022 fair.

“While the record heat did suppress the attendance somewhat it still brought more than 15,000 people out to enjoy the food, rides, and animals,” Porter said in an email.

Before the pandemic, 23,000 people attended the fair in 2019, she said in an email.

The warmest temperatures of the year arrived last week, according to the National Weather Service. 

The fair opened on July 27 to a daytime high of 93 degrees. It was followed by 97 degrees on Thursday, 97 degrees on Friday, 99 degrees on Saturday and 97 degrees on Sunday, the last day of the fair.

Still, there was some pent up demand for fair activities.

Porter said 256 people attended the county commissioner’s pancake breakfast on Saturday, which was higher than in previous years, and the Thurston County Youth Market Animal Sale raised more than $170,000.

“On average, a good year is around $100,000 raised,” Porter said.

Future Farmers of America and 4-H youth sell animals they have raised, such as steer, hog, lamb, meat goat and rabbit, at the market, according to the county youth market website.

And longtime county fair board member and volunteer Ann Shipley won the coveted “black and white ribbon.”

Colloquially, the prize is known as the black and white ribbon, but officially Shipley won a commissioner’s award, said Theresa Norman, the fairs program administrator for the state Department of Agriculture.

Norman said the ribbon is awarded by a state Fair Commissioner. Sometimes a fair display or exhibit can win the award, but this year Shipley won it.

The Olympian reached out to Shipley who recalled how it all went down. 

The fair commissioner and the county fair coordinator walked the grounds of the fair, with the commissioner occasionally asking. “Who did this? Who did that?”

Each time the answer was “Ann Shipley,” she said.

“In the commissioner’s words, I was the ‘soul of the fair,’” Shipley said.

Shipley started as a 4-H leader in 1975, she said.

“I love everything about the fair,” Shipley said, citing the lights on the barns at night, the animals, the cotton candy and the candied apples.

“The fair is a happy place and I was lucky to work in a happy place,” she said.