By Polly Keary, Editor
Although he retired in 2007, former Snohomish County Parks Director Gary Weikel’s legacy continues at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds.
Earlier this month, the county council voted to name the new exhibition hall at the fairgrounds the Gary D. Weikel Events Center, after the affable and influential former parks head.
“The key is that he loves parks and the fairgrounds, and was and is still very, very active at the fair,” said Snohomish County Parks Director Tom Teigen, who replaced Weikel upon his retirement.
Weikel came to county government as an executive office administrator in 1986. He was a well-liked figure with strong union connections who then-executive Willis Tucker hoped might help grease the wheels between himself, a Democrat, and a mostly Republican county council.
Twelve years later Bob Drewel was elected to the executive office, and later said that he was immediately told that Gary Weikel would be indispensable, and for another 12 years, Drewel found that to be the case.
When Aaron Reardon was elected, he, too, kept Weikel on, and named him acting parks director.
Among Weikel’s major accomplishments was wresting $67 million for parks from King County in exchange for allowing the Brightwater treatment plant to be built near Maltby. It was more than three times what King County had initially offered.
Weikel also sat on the public facilities board that worked on the Everett Events Center, the Lynnwood Convention Center, and the Future of Flight exhibition.
One of his major loves was the fair, and in fact, he was seduced out to a ceremony in his honor to name the new building on the pretext of touring the grounds.
The ceremony came as a complete surprise to the retiree, who still volunteers at the fair every year. He arrived to find his wife, County Auditor Carolyn Weikel, there with other family members. The people gathered at the fairgrounds listened live over speakerphone as the county council passed the unanimous vote to name the building in his honor.
The Evergreen Events Center is a 33,000 square-foot exhibition hall that was built in 2011.