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County Fair is a way to Enrich our Lives, Help Economy

It’s Grays Harbor County Fair time!

Although it started on Wednesday, you still have time today and tomorrow to spend a day at the fair in Elma!

You may wonder why we at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor -- the folks who specialize in no-cost HUD housing counseling, first mortgage and home repair loans– decided to talk about ribbons, rides, pigs and pies!

Well, the Grays Harbor County Fair is the biggest event staged at our county fairgrounds. In addition to being a lot of fun, it boosts our economy, gives an opportunity for 4H’ers to show their projects, photographers and quilters to show their arts and crafts, Master Gardners to show their fabulous garden and for businesses to show their wares. It also provides a happy place to connect with our neighbors, friends and brings tourists to our community.

In fact, Mike Bruner, the Grays Harbor County Fairgrounds and Tourism Manager, said an estimated 25 to 35 percent of those who attend come from outside of the county.

“We market for the fair on TV, print, and radio outside of the county as well as inside,” he said.

Including all the various vendors and exhibitors, typically some 60,000 to 65,000 people walk through the gates each year during its five-day run.


The county fair is a time-honored tradition that is woven into the fabric of our country with the first American fair organized in Pittsfield, Mass., in 1807

“The history, tradition and whole idea of county fairs was as a showcase of your community,” Bruner said.

“Whether businesses or individuals, people came together to show who had the best animals or the best berry pie. The same goes for who grew the best tomatoes or who canned the best tomatoes.

“We try to hold as much as possible to the traditional fair meaning, but also balance that with new fair attractions, carnival rides, games, entertainment, and the food, of course,” Bruner said.

“For our community, it’s a showcase, but it’s also an economic driver. It’s the largest event as far as revenue for the fairgrounds. And, it’s a reason to come to our community,” he said, adding that tickets were sold for Wednesday night’s concert by Old Dominion to folks from throughout the state and even some from Oregon.

The gates open at 10 a.m. each day of the fair. Tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for youth and seniors, and free for those under 5. (Military discounts are available.)

Tonight a Tom Petty tribute band and the car races are featured; also, the carnival is open until 11 p.m. Tomorrow’s entertainment includes a local cheerleading exhibit. The fair closes at 5 p.m. Sunday. However, if you time it right, you can get in free for one hour between 10 and 11 that morning.


While the Grays Harbor County Fairgrounds is well designed to host a fair, the versatile facility is also perfectly suited to many other events. Bruner says the fairground typically hosts 125 to 200 events each year!

Some of the major ones include the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars over Labor Day weekend, the Grays Harbor Mounted Posse Indoor-Pro Rodeo in March, the Master Gardeners Home and Garden Show in the spring, several major dog shows, and a series of high school equestrian meets in the winter.


In addition to events at the fairgrounds, many unique events can be found throughout our community all year-long.

From Logger’s Playday in Hoquiam, Splash, in Aberdeen, Festival of Lights in Montesano, Chocolate on the Beach at Pacific Beach, The Bear Festival in McCleary and many, many more – our various communities know how to enrich our lives, give us a sense of community, and draw us together.

Look at the website sometime! Fishing derbies, music festival, art shows, huge garage sales, surfing contests, kite festivals and various seafood festivals are sprinkled in our county throughout the year.

What that diversity means is that people who are interested in just about anything, can find a reason to visit – or live in – Grays Harbor.


First-time homebuyer? To get the best loans, get educated. Check out for your internet homebuyer education and housing counseling needs. We here at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor will help you get it done. We may be able to help you finance your home purchase, too.

Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks® of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is the executive director. This is a non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing opportunities for all residents of Grays Harbor County.

Do you have questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or becoming a homeowner or one of our contractors? We have rehab loan funds at tailored rates! Call us at 533-7828, write us or visit us at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen.

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