Milly Mayhew brushes a goat in the Great American Petting Zoo at the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe on Friday, Aug. 24.
Milly Mayhew brushes a goat in the Great American Petting Zoo at the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe on Friday, Aug. 24.

Amy Reed and her family have committed to visiting the Evergreen State Fair every summer for the past three years.

She and her daughter Sophia, 4, and fiancée Katie Pinfield made the quick trip for the 2018 festivities on Friday from Everett. A few hours before sundown, they wound their way through rows of raucous carnival rides and games.

“We’re making it a tradition,” Reed said next to the ring toss.

They had just knocked out a towering stack of red bands. Pinfield said the trio makes a point of supporting local vendors when they go. She laughed, and said she usually buys all her shoe cleaner at the fair.

The 27-year-old said the outing has something for the whole family. Sophia likes the rides, but Pinfield comes for the scones. Reed said somehow each year they manage to bring home a stuffed animal.

“It’s a collection we’ve started,” she said.

Thousands more families will walk through the gates until they are locked on Labor Day. The fair draws about 330,000 people on average each year. Everett man Luis Sanchez and his family bought the ticket that broke an attendance record during the last day of the fair last year. Theirs was the 348,631st to be scanned at the gate.

“It is just huge how much the community wants to get involved and come out to something like this,” fair manager Hal Gausman said at the time.

The event’s history can be traced back to the 1870s, when the first agriculture display was hosted in Snohomish County, according to the fairgrounds’ website. Festivities had evolved into the Snohomish County Fair within a few decades.

Other similar events were held during that period, including the Monroe District Fair in 1903. In 1949 the recently revived Snohomish County Fair became what people flock to now, during the final weeks of summer.

The Evergreen State Fair is celebrating its 110th year. Races, gifts and crafts, equestrian presentations and rows of games and greasy foods from local and regional vendors are on the schedule until Monday, Sept. 3.

Many families have already been frequenting its activities for decades. Rilyn Haugen, 26, took a ride on a mini-roller coaster with her daughter, Brailee Denton, on Friday.

They drove down together from Lake Stevens. The mother describes her 3-year-old as generally cautious.

“I was surprised she wanted to ride the rides,” she said with a laugh.

Haugen has been making the trek since she was about 3 years old, said her dad, who joined them that day. Haugen said usually only a few family members will miss out on the fun each year. Most are able to make it.

Janice Gee, who grew up in Camas but now lives in Texas, came with her grandchildren, including Amelie Perrone. The kids’ parents were out of town this week. She said they couldn’t miss their favorite exhibits.

“Of course, the animals,” Gee said. “We watched the dog show, and we got to watch a rooster play dead.”

Later that day, she held Perrone tightly by the waist as the girl peered curiously into a glass case full of buzzing bees. Gee said she loved that her grandkids had the chance to learn about livestock from someone their own age. That kind of connection is too absent in the current culture, she said.

“Oh, this is just so cool,” she exclaimed, following Perrone past perfectly organized grange displays.

Milly Mayhew, 6, got hands on with a variety of four-footed creatures Friday. She brushed some baby goats while at the Great American Petting Zoo display. Llamas, deer and a tiny pig milled around her.

Mayhew’s father, Daniel Surdyk, watched her and her other sibling. His wife was nearby. This was the main event for the Snohomish family. They usually spend much of the rest of their time at the rides. Surdyk said he has been coming for the past 25 years. 

“It’s just fun to do,” he said.