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 Thurston County Fair
 3054 Carpenter Road
 Lacey, WA 98503Follow the Thurston County Fair on Facebook
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Thurston County
Washington

 

 

 

Decade by Decade

Each decade brought new ideas, people, and competitions to the Fair.  Read on to see how the Thurston County Fair became what it is today.

1871 to 1881
The first Fair was held on October 6th and 7th, 1871, at the Columbia Hall.  For this first year, the only live animals entered were birds and fowls, including one pair of Japanese chickens and one Australian Cockatoo!  Fairgrounds were eventually built at the location where the Tumwater Safeway now sits.

1881 to 1891
Chehalis was the home to the Fair in 1884, the last of this decade.  However, the "do nothing" Fair board, as it was now called, continued to meet.

1891 to 1901
During this time there was no Fair locally.  However, there were regional fairs or expositions to which local residents sent exhibits - Seattle, Tacoma and especially Portland were popular at the time.

1901 to 1911
In 1910 the Fair board was again established.  They proved to have purpose and mission when the idea of buying Dr. Carlyon's Track (at Sunset Life) for the Fairgrounds was proposed.  After a very active campaign, the deal fell through in the elections when it went down in a resounding defeat.

1911 to 1921
Wonderwood Track was the sight of the Thurston County Fair in this decade, held in 1913.  Now the Lacey Post Office, the Fair at this site proved to be a financial and weather-related washout.

1921 to 1931
Finally Thurston County had a Fair again!  After many years of silence, the Fair was up and running again in 1926.  It was the first official county fair since 1913.  Held in Tenino, it was an improvement on past fairs.  The Fair stayed in Tenino until 1930, with the last Fair held at the site where Tenino Elementary School now sits.

1931 to 1941  After the success of the Fair in the previous decade, one would suspect further improvement on the Fair.  Yet the Fair was replaced with a Harvest Festival held in at the American Legion Hall by Capital Lake and in various granges and schools in Thurston County.

1941 to 1951
World War II raged on, and holding the Fair became difficult if not impossible.  4-H continued to compete at the 4-H camp at Millersylvania State Park.  When the war was over, the Fair started again as a county fair in 1946 and continued to be held in various locations until 1951.

1951 to 1961
The Fair was held at the South Bay Grange from 1952 until 1957.  To finish off the last day of the Fair in 1957, there was an "all livestock" parade at 5 pm (and there were 632 4-H entries!).  In 1958 the Fair was moved to Long Lake again after being there briefly in the late 1940s.  A livestock barn was built (currently the rabbit/poultry) and the Fair has stayed at this site since.

1961 to 1971
Royal Munson was appointed Fair manager in 1962 and remained at that position until 1968 when Floyd Kreigel took over the job.  The concrete restroom building was opened in 1963.  A new parking lot was made in 1964, with acres of forest cleared to make room.  In 1970 the food court was built and named for Royal Munson, and a pet porcupine escaped and was not found.  

1971 to 1981
Bea Benoschek became manager in 1971 after Mr. Kreigel retired in April of that year, and the Fair board voted to buy an adding machine for the manager.  The sheep barn was built on the fairgrounds in 1972 and a secretary was hired for the Fair manager.  Jerry Cowles became Fair manager in 1978 after serving three years as the Fair Board president.  A highlight of the Fairs was the landing of a hang-glider in the lower arena!  The first mention of Heritage Village was in 1980, with a Foundation created to build a series of historical-type buildings on the Fairgrounds.  The Foundation was eventually dissolved.

1981 to 1991
The Milking parlor was finished in 1981 (now the Fair Board office at the end of the Beef Barn).  The Sharp and Fir Buildings were constructed with volunteer labor in 1982.  The Miss Thurston County Pageant was held on Opening Day at the Fair in 1983.  A Beer Garden was on the grounds one year during this decade, and plans are not in the works to have it return any time soon.  Mr. Cowles resigned as manager after the 1986 Fair and Kent Hojem was hired on as interim manager and stayed on as manager thereafter.

1991 to 2001
The Horticulture Building was built in 1992.  Mr. Hojem stepped down as Fair manager after the 1995 Fair and was replaced by Linda Edwards for one year.  In 1997 Rick Storvick was appointed the manager's position and is the current manager of the Fair.  The Fair hooked up to the sewer system in 1999, and built ADA accessible ramps into Heritage Hall.

2001 to 2009
Teen Works appeared on the scene in 2001 giving 4-H members an opportunity to do work projects for actual dollars using computers. For several years they did an exit survey for the fair.

Improvements to the grounds included the grading and conversion of the old storage yard into a camping area as well as additional camping space near the horse barns. Also new portable PA systems were obtained for use in the arenas. 2002 saw the grand opening of the Expo Hall - the first new building on the grounds in many years - and it is air conditioned!

In 2003 the Fair got another new building - this time a pole barn to house the open class goats, and the open class sheep, while improvements continued to be made to the new camping areas with paving and improved electrical hookups.

Pocket Pets were making a slow but steady appearance - this year they had three animals (a hamster, a degu, and a pond slider turtle.

In 2004 the Red Wind Casino and Nisqually tribe presented the fair with a check to provide a tent over the audience watching performances on the Les Schwab stage. The donation was very welcome!

In 2006, after Heritage Hall had gone through a major renovation, it was rededicated with grand fanfare on itís 60th birthday with speeches, a parade, and the serving of peach cobbler to all comers. We also started renaming buildings - starting with the Willuweit Pavilion in 2002, and in 2007 added the Sokolik Building and Simons Barn to recognize notables involved with both buildings. The families were recognized at the 2008 fair with a reception and plaques on the buildings.

Diane Oberquell, a county commissioner who had been a supporter of the fair throughout her time in office retired in 2008, and was therefore recognized for her years of service at the opening ceremonies.

 In 2009 we instituted an ďadopt a gardenĒ program with various civic groups, garden clubs, and individuals adopting various garden plots around the fairgrounds. These were judged and ribbons awarded for the first time.