Ever wonder if the fair we enjoy these days looks anything like the fair of the past? A journey through the annual scrapbooks kept by the fair board may hold the answers.
Each year, the fair board and volunteers take photos and gather news clippings, flyers, advertisements and anything else they can get their hands on and following the fair, put all these items into scrapbooks. The books are housed in the fair office. Some years are missing, but here’s a sample of what’s preserved:
In 1950, the Kitsap County Fair was held Aug. 24 to 27 at the Civic Recreation Center in Bremerton. The fairgrounds and arena were yet to come. A two-hour grandstand show was at Roosevelt Field, with a performance by the “Skating Millers,” who skated and performed aerobatics on a platform that was attached to the roof of a car. All that happened as the car drove around the field.
Cost to attend the fair was 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for kids. A fair program cost 10 cents.
More than 20,000 folks attended the fair that year, which also included a street dance in downtown Bremerton at Fourth Street and Pacific Avenue. J.P. Patches made an appearance at the fair as did the Great Albanis, a European novelty act on the high wire. It included motorcycles riding in circles 50-feet in the air.
Headlines included “Bob Price of Burley captures the Family Top 4-H Dairy Award.”
There’s a photo in the album of 5-year-old Ricky Anderson, who got lost at the fair, but was entertained by Ernesti The Clown, until his parents arrived to be reunited with him. Ernesto even let little Ricky wear his cowboy hat.
And a photo in a local newspaper captured area Camp Fire Girls asking people at the fair to sign a “I Won’t Hoard,” pledge. The girls were on to something with their anti-hoarding campaign.
In 1960, the theme for the fair was “Come to the Fair.” J.P. Patches again entertained the kids while music was performed by “Brakeman Bill” and Rex Allen. Bands from West High School, East High School, Central Kitsap High School and Dewey Junior High performed at the fair. Carnival rides were tops and Mrs. George Littel gave demonstrations on cake decorating daily, Aug. 22-25. A family could attend the fair for $8.50.
Attendance at the fair in 1971 grew to 57,000. The theme was “Rope Yourself Five days of Fun.” It was the 25th anniversary of the fair and admission was $2 per adult. Parking was 25 cents.
“Lucky Stars” trick riders in the Hardin Family from Bakersfield, California, performed at the rodeo jumping fires and cars. Larry Mahan, World Champion All Round Cowboy, made an appearance. Leo Miller, fair board member since the fair began, was honored for his service. “Good Blessings” a folk-rock group was the main stage entertainment. Mrs. Rollin Goodridge of Berry Lake Road, again won for her pickles. She’d entered the fair since 1949 and won many times. She even shared her recipe for sweet dills.
Many local men took part in a beard-growing contest and Kitsap County Commissioner Bill Mahan took home the prize. Three thousand dollars was given away in prize money to youth rodeos. And Fair Manager Stan Johnson wrote letters to President Dwight Eisenhower and Vice President Richard Nixon inviting them to attend the fair. He received letters back, saying neither could attend.
He also got a letter from Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company telling him that the goodyear Blimp couldn’t make it either.
In 1973, the fair was held Aug. 22 to 26 and included the opportunity to view NASA Lunar Rocks from the moon. There was the Little Britches Rodeo and R&R Unlimited, a rock band, performed. Admission to the fair was $1 per person or $3 for a five-day pass.
Rodeo queens Lisa Hamilton, Sandy Bates and Sue Reynolds were the fair ambassadors in 1977. The fair saw 574 4-H exhibits and 638 home arts exhibits. A power outage during the bake off didn’t stop “enticing aromas” from flowing through the fairgrounds. Ed Hume was there to talk about everything that grows. And the rock group Gibraltar performed. A five-day pass was $3.50.
There was thought given to an all-day rock festival, and Irven Lorance and Jim Yander circulated petitions asking that a festival be allowed on the fairgrounds as part of the fair.
But County Prosecutor Ron Franz said “Kitsap County is not interested in allowing its land to be used for an outdoor music festival. Furthermore, I suspect the proposed rock concert would violate our noise ordinance.”
In 1979, fair attendance rose to 98,200. There were 140 commercial exhibits and 440 4-H exhibits. The theme was “Family-a-Fair.” A coloring contest was part of the fair and kids were offered the opportunity to win prizes by coloring pictures of a family at the fair.
Entertainment was Chubby Checkers, the Coasters and the Drifters. Those who rodeoed were part of the Columbia River Circuit. There was a “Diaper Derby” where toddlers in diapers raced to the finish line. A family pass was $25.
The rodeo royalty was photographed with Captain J.H. Boyd Jr., the commander of the Puget Sound Navy Shipyard.
“The Guess Who” performed at the fair in 1990. Thursday was family day and admission was $10 per person. Stefani Trudeau, age 5, of Silverdale, was named “Katie Kitsap,” the mascot for the fair. The theme was “I Love a Fair,” and 47,500 attended. There were 564 4-H exhibits, 134 livestock shown, and 1,857 items were entered in the open class exhibits.
In 1991, “A Gaggle O’ Giggles,” was the theme and attendance shot back up to 83,445. 4-H exhibits grew to 519. Livestock shown numbered 156, and Thursday was family day at a cost of $8 for the entire family. Singer Lee Greenwood was the entertainment and Diane Hawver, of Poulsbo, had the best pie, a fresh pear pie. The Sea Dragon was the hot ride at the carnival.
In 1993, entertainment hit an all-time-high when Tanya Tucker performed. Attendance at the fair that year was 84,209. The theme was “Jam Session,” as in homemade jam. The fair also celebrated the Ferris wheel which turned 50 years old in 1993. Fair exhibits were encouraged to put the Ferris wheel somewhere in their entries. Adults got into the fair for $5, juniors and seniors paid $2. An article in a local paper called “Street Talk” interviewed a dog, a pony, a sheep and a chicken about why they were going to go to the fair.
In 2001, the fair carried a theme of “Rock Around the Rodeo.” There was a raffle to win a colt from the Valley Haven Farm. Sand sculptor Charlie Beaulieu of Suquamish, sculpted 40 tons of sand into a scene at the front gate that depicted fair animals, a bucking bronco and trees.
Adults could do the fair and see the rodeo for $12. Kids and seniors could get into the fair for $4.