Silvana Fair draws record crowd |SLIDESHOW

SILVANA — The 65th year of the Silvana Fair on Saturday, July 28, was the first in more than 40 years to be held without longtime Fair Board President Roy Strotz, but Board Vice President Lynn Pattison doesn’t see the annual event slowing down anytime soon.

“The Silvana Fair was bigger than ever this year,” said Pattison, who estimated that the fairgrounds behind the Viking Hall in Silvana drew about 3,000 attendees, from the 9 a.m. opening ceremonies dedicated to Strotz’s memory and the games that followed, to the livestock exhibitions throughout the day that were wrapped up by the “Parade of Champions” shortly before 5 p.m., showcasing all the animals who’d earned the distinction of “Best in Show.”

While Silvana firefighters such as Trent Nunemake treated youngsters such as 3-year-old Conner Kinnear of Marysville to turns at spraying the firehouse, the tractor pull made its debut and drew at least a dozen entrants, including Jerry Lewis of Smokey Point, whose John Deere 100 series lawn tractor boasted $1,800 in modifications, and 94-year-old Helen Vickers of Arlington, driving her husband’s Minneapolis-Moline tractor. At the same time, familiar favorites such as the Stanwood Redi-Mix greased pole contest drew aspiring climbers such as 5-year-old Dylan Miller from as far away as Covington.

In spite of the fair’s growth over previous years, Arlington rabbit breeder and apprentice judge Autumn Dennistoun noted that this year’s number of rabbit entries was down to five.

“Breeding rabbits is a great way to teach kids responsibility and life lessons,” said Dennistoun, a 17-year-old who looks forward to being promoted to a full official judge with the American Rabbit Breeders Association in time for next year’s Silvana Fair. “It’s taught me public speaking skills, since I’ve learned to talk to people I don’t know, and rabbits are my favorite animals forever.”

Fellow Arlington native Keyera Riley, 11, has followed in big sister Kiauna’s footsteps by raising Oberhasli milk goats for the past three years. Just as Dennistoun appreciates the unique personalities of the rabbits that she cares for, so too does Keyera enjoy spending time with her goats, although she acknowledged that they do literally butt heads with each other on occasion, and cleaning out their stalls is a bit of a chore for her.

The Rileys weren’t the only sister act to enter livestock in the fair. Stanwood’s Gracie Johnson, 14, and her kid sister Mary, 12, have been raising cows for the past four years, but this year marked their first fair showing.

“It’s helping us prepare for future fairs,” said Gracie Johnson, echoing Pattison’s earlier assessment of the Silvana Fair’s value as a learning fair. “Next time, we’ll know to practice everything we do before we come here, from working with the halter to controlling them with the stick. You can’t slack at all, or it’ll show in the ring.”

“Your arms get tired really fast,” Mary Johnson agreed. “It’s a really good experience, though.”

Like the Johnson sisters, fellow Stanwood native Brittany Briggs expects to continue working with livestock well into adulthood, while pursuing a career in agriculture. The 17-year-old has raised wool sheep longer than she can recall, but she’s fairly certain that she’s entered at least five Silvana Fairs.

“Keeping them clean is the most difficult, because you can’t wash them,” said Briggs, as she instead trimmed the tips of her 7-month-old sheep’s wool, where they had become weathered. “Look at how cute they are, though. I don’t even know why I like sheep. I just really do. Even if I get into another business, I’ll keep raising them as a hobby.”

“The Washington State Fair Board judge commented that the Silvana Fair was one of the better small community fairs in the state, a particularly fine compliment since it takes place on only one day a year,” Pattison said.


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