Monroe resident Briana Pence was finally picked out of the crowd during the last international lumberjack show on opening day of the 2017 Evergreen State Fair.

She waited years for the moment. Her family has been patronizing the grounds for more than a decade. Attending the loud, sawdust-covered exhibition has become a top priority.

“It's the highlight for the family,” Pence said.

The 12-year-old walked away with an armful of impromptu carvings, including a small chair and two triangular blocks that were placed on her head by the emcee as bunny ears during the program. Standing beside the bleachers afterward, she watched two men sprint up and down two stripped, upright logs.

“That one is going to win,” she said, pointing to the one on the right. “He knows how to get down quickly.”

Sure enough, the competitor on the left hit the bell at the top of the route first. His challenger flew backwards down the timber at almost double the pace. Pence shrugged and said she had seen the show many times.

Every year the Evergreen State Fair draws about 330,000 people from all over Washington to the grounds.

 

Its history can be traced back to the 1870s, when the first agriculture display was hosted in Snohomish County, according to the fairgrounds' website. Two decades later the festivities had evolved into the Snohomish County Fair. Other similar events were held throughout the years, including the Monroe District Fair in 1903.

In 1949 the recently revived Snohomish County Fair became what people flock to today during the final weeks of summer. The Evergreen State Fair is now in its 109th year. This time around the races, gifts and crafts, equestrian presentations and rows of games and greasy foods from local and regional vendors will be offered up until the last day on Monday, Sept. 4.

Ava Spainhower and her mother, Gina, come every year. The pair lasted long after the rest of their family tired and went home on Thursday.

As the sun was about to set, Ava Spainhower decided to sit down and get a caricature of her drawn. Her mother watched. She encouraged Ava to take the drawing home with her, which depicted the 7-year-old's missing front teeth that had recently fallen out.

“We have been here since 11 (a.m.),” Gina Spainhower said. “She (Ava) isn't even ready to go home yet.”

Gina Spainhower said they prefer the Evergreen State Fair over the popular Washington State Fair in Puyallup. It is reasonably priced, smaller and more accessible, she said.

Admission is free for seniors 90 years or older and children under 5. Tickets are $8 for active members of the military, youth between 6 and 15 years old and seniors 62-89. Adults will pay $12. Stroller and wagon rentals cost $15 with a deposit. Wheelchairs range from $20-50 with a deposit. Parking costs $10 at each of the four open lots.

Evelynn Johannes, 6, took a shot at winning some stuffed prizes after sundown on Thursday. Her family watched in silence behind her as she took aim and threw sharp darts at lines of balloons pinned up to the wall before her.

Cousins Priscilla Guzman, 5, and Kinsley Bostock, 2, paired up to try out the rides. Their mothers, Megan and Amy, said the family came for the first day because each person could get in for free if they donated three cans of food before 3 p.m. Tickets for the rides can be purchased in sheets or unlimited wristbands are available.

While the fair is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, the rides and games start and finish an hour after. Daily schedules can be found at evergreenfair.org.

The lists include details on the competitive 4H Club exhibits, texting display and belching contest, grandstand events, Aztec Indian dancers and lumberjack shows. They also outline the daily themes, such as Kids Day on Thursday, Aug. 31, when youth under 15 get in for free, or Armed Forces Day on Friday, Sept. 1, when members of the armed forces or first responders who can show an ID card get in for free.

Tickets for the five concerts, and shows at the Evergreen Speedway like NASCAR Night, which starts at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 2, or the Demolition Derby that starts at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 3, must be purchased separately. Country music performers Josh Turner and Trace Adkins are two big names scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 29, and Friday, Sept. 1, respectively. Prices range between $35-58.

Selfie sticks, drones and the use of tobacco and marijuana products are prohibited inside the fairgrounds.

Alla Bennett and her family came to help ring in the start of the 12 days of festivities this year. She said it has become an annual tradition. It is also something she tries to do as much as possible since her children are all at the age were they still enjoy the entertainment.

“It's super fun,” said Alla's daughter, Sarah, after hopping off the Power Jump ride, which straps participants into a harness and flexible chords that allow them to fly high through the air and do summersaults.