Evergreen State Fair attendees participate in goat yoga.
Evergreen State Fair attendees participate in goat yoga.

Snohomish County is calling this year’s Evergreen State Fair and a new fundraiser that benefits the victims of the Oso mudslide promoted during the annual event successes.

The 2018 festivities drew the third-highest attendance in the fair’s history, according to a Snohomish County news release. By the time gates were locked on Labor Day, 346,045 people had passed through.

The Sanchez family bought the record-holding 348,631st ticket on the last day of the fair in 2017. Sales hit 350,761 by the event’s end. The second-highest attendance was recorded in 2014.

Organizers report the impact reaches beyond hard data. 

“We look at the number of smiles and memories created here to judge if it was a good Fair, and we had a great year,” said fair manager Hal Gausman in the release.

This year’s theme was “Summer Days and Country Ways.” Visitors took part in a number of old and new activities, and engaged in various fundraisers built into the event.

About $11,200 was donated for three fundraisers, including $8,725 for a memorial that will commemorate the 2014 Oso landslide, and $1,555 for the Justin Boots Cowboy Crisis Fund, which supports injured professional rodeo athletes and their families.

Snohomish County Parks, Recreation and Tourism director Tom Teigen said in a news release the agency wanted to offer the community a chance to contribute with the “Dollar Up for Oso” campaign during the fair. The project is headed by staff, along with survivors and victims’ families, as the Mudslide Memorial Family and Fundraising Committee for the SR 530 Mudslide Memorial project.

Attendees were asked to give when they bought their tickets, just before entering the grounds.

“We are grateful to all those who gave, often going above the suggested dollar amount, and who visited the Slide Memorial Booth at the Fair to learn more about the project,” said Teigen in a news release.

Snohomish County has purchased most of the parcels that were affected by the mudslide that killed 43 people, according to the memorial campaign. Seven more people survived.

Of the county acquired land, 13 acres have been set aside for the memorial.

The monument will be a place to go for everyone who was impacted by the slide, according to the campaign. More than 100 regional emergency responders were deployed to the site on the first day alone.

Community members from Darrington, Oso and Arlington mobilized as soon as news spread, to help find and support their neighbors. State and federal agencies and members of local industries collaborated during the longterm repair of the area.

About nine acres along Whitehorse Trail will be left untouched; four will be developed into the memorial, “paying tribute to those who were lost, those who survived, the community that was lost and the communities that responded,” according to the campaign.

The timeline and geology of the event also will be highlighted. The county hopes to have enough funds to pay for engineering and permits in time for construction on the five-year process to start by March. The total cost of the project is expected to be more than $6 million.

Visitors found other ways to give during their visit to the fairgrounds this summer.

The Snohomish County Food Bank Coalition received 29,710 pounds of food, which was donated to the Opening Day Canned Food Drive, according to a news release.

About 50 tons of garbage skipped the landfill, because visitors composted and recycled when they could. That amounts to 858 trees saved and 350,000 gallons of water, according to the release.

Some attendees also found themselves on the receiving end during their visit to the fair, through programs like the second Morning of Dreams. During the event an inclusive time and activities were designated for people with disabilities or special needs and their caregivers and families.

“Every aspect of Morning of Dreams was a huge success last year, and the only critical feedback we received from the public was a need to expand the event so even more families could have the opportunity to participate,” said Evergreen State Fair marketing specialist Brielle Dodge ahead of the second event.

Organizers doubled the number of spaces available, from 250 to 500 tickets. Caregivers were let in at no cost, which was sponsored by Connect Cheer Northwest and Ryatt Construction. Almost 3,000 veterans, first responders, people between the ages of 6-89, and their dependents also had free admission during Heroes Day on Aug. 31.

“The Evergreen State Fair would like to thank all those who came out this year and the unwavering support of local agriculture, education, and fun, inclusive community experiences for all,” according to the release. “The Fair team is already underway planning a very special 2019 Evergreen State Fair.”