YAKIMA - The Mardi Gras theme was so popular at last year's Central Washington State Fair that officials decided to build upon the success in 2004.
Central Washington State Fair officials announced yesterday the dates, events and entertainment that will be at the fair this year.
The theme for this year's fair is "Deux Carnaval!!!...the FUN Continues." The dates for the fair, announced President and General Manager Greg Stewart, will be Friday, Sept. 24, through Sunday, Oct. 3.
"This is the largest single family event in all of Eastern Washington," said Stewart.
Stewart pointed out the fair serves as a venue for many different non-profit agencies to raise money. Last year, $500,000 was raised by non-profits through their efforts during the fair. The fair also helps add an extra boost to the local economy. Stewart said the fair employs between 500 and 600 people during its run.
This year's fair will still have a number of the same events that proved popular to fair-goers last year. There will be night parades through the fairgrounds, featuring beads and puppets that are common with the Mardi Gras theme.
The fair will also bring back the popular Royal Hanneford Circus, which played to capacity crowds at last year's fair. The Florida-based circus will perform three daily shows each of the 10 days of the fair. Stewart didn't elaborate much but said the circus will have a kangaroo act that will entertain young and old alike.
"We had more positive comments on the circus than anything we did last year," said Stewart. "Everyone loved them and asked us to bring them back, so we did!"
The grandstand acts on the fairgrounds will give people plenty to cheer about. Action at the grandstand will begin on opening Friday with the Northern Sprint Car tour races at 7 p.m. Entertainment at the grandstand will end on Sunday with the always-popular demolition derby at 2 p.m. A variety of other events will filter through the grandstand during the 10-day run of the fair, including a Spanish rodeo and a full-blown PRCA rodeo, which will go two nights. There will also be the Bull-O-Rama on Friday, Oct. 1, at 7 p.m.
There is also a vast array of musical talent converging on the Oak Park Stage each night of the fair. Entertainment will open on Sept. 24 with country music veterans The Bellamy Brothers at 7:30 p.m. The Bellamy Brothers are the most nominated duo in the history of country music. They have such hits as "If I Said You Have A Beautiful Body, Would You Hold it Against Me," and "Let Your Love Flow."
Weird Al Yankovic returns to the Central Washington State Fair after an eight-year absence. Yankovic, who made a name for himself with musical parodies of Michael Jackson, Nirvana and Queen, will be the main musical attraction Saturday, Sept. 25, at 7:30 p.m.
The musical group Bjorn Again will perform on the Oak Park Stage Sunday, Sept. 26, at 4 p.m. The group performs music of the famed 70s pop group ABBA.
County music artist Gary Allan will perform on Tuesday, Sept. 28, at 7:30 p.m. Allan has such hit sons as "Man to Man" and "The One."
One of the most known female performers of all time, Joan Jett, will bring her band, the Blackhearts, to the fair on Friday, Oct. 1. Jett is known across the world for her classic song "I Love Rock n' Roll." Jett and her band will take the Oak Park Stage at 7:30 p.m.
Winding down the entertainment at the fair will be comedian Carrot Top. He will perform Saturday, Oct. 2, at 7:30 p.m. Carrot Top is a past recipient of the American Comedy Award for best stand-up male.
Stewart said fair officials are working on bringing in a top Hispanic performer for the final Sunday of the fair. Stewart said the cost of the entertainment, which is free with admission to fairgoers, tallies about $400,000.
Although the entertainment at the fair is free, patrons may purchase reserved seats for the Oak Park Stage and Grandstand events. To reserve a seat at one of the fair events or for more information, call (509) 248-7160.
Fair information may also be obtained online at www.fairfun.com.