GRANDVIEW - The Yakima Valley Fair and Rodeo officially opens at noon Wednesday, Aug. 10, for the first of five days of fun at the Grandview Country Park Fairgrounds on Wallace Way.
The 78th annual event, which runs through Sunday, Aug. 14, is going to be better than ever, according to organizers.
"This year we have something for everyone," said Mike Bradshaw, president of the fair and rodeo board.
"I encourage everyone to bring their family and come check out the many activities planned for this year's event."
Making the 2005 fair and rodeo weekend a "better fair and rodeo ever" will be appearances by Marilyn Monroe look-alike Karen Motherway, soldiers in Civil War regalia, bucking horses and raging bulls, pony rides, university marching bands, as well as goat, cat, horse, dog and dairy shows and the much anticipated annual diaper derby.
"Our fair annually attracts exhibitors from Yakima to Benton City," said Bradshaw. "Exhibitors of all ages come to display their items and animals at our local fair," he said.
In keeping with this year's theme, "Clucks, Ducks and Bucks," the fair board has planned the usual array of animal exhibitions. The five-day event will also include two days of professional rodeo action, as well as a car show and a living history lesson in the form of a regiment of Civil Way reenactors. In addition, there will be a day dedicated to celebrating the Lower Valley Spanish heritage, said Sharon Fisher, who annually heads up the two-day rodeo action.
Fisher said much of the talent appearing on the fairground stage will also be appearing in the Grandview Community Parade to be held Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
Bradshaw, who has been active as the commercial booth organizer in the past, said this year he is expecting the commercial vendors area will be even larger than last year.
"We had a highly successful food court and vendor booth area last year, and it's looking like that success will be repeated this year," Bradshaw added.
To improve traffic between the commercial booths and the food court, the fair board has relocated the fair stage just to the west of the food court area.
In years past the entertainment has been held in the fairground amphitheater, but that often left the commercial booths isolated from the rest of the fair activities, Bradshaw explained..
"By centralizing all of the activities around the stage, the fair board hopes to make it easier for fair-goers to see as much of the fair as is possible," he said.
Bradshaw said fair event announcements will be made from the stage on an hourly basis to keep the public informed about upcoming judging, entertainment and any changes in the daily schedule.
"It's our hope that we will be able to keep the crowds moving back and forth between the commercial booths, the food court the animal barns and the many other fair attractions," he said.
The line-up of entertainment will include local talent, as well as internationally known Marilyn Monroe tribute artist Karen Motherway on Thursday night.
Also scheduled to perform following the parade on the fair stage will be University of Washington Band and Cheer Department's Grandview day campers. The campers, made up of area music and cheer students, will be fresh off attending a day-long camp held at Grandview High School earlier in the day, said Jim Herriman, who has coordinated the band and cheer day camping experience.
According to Herriman, the band campers will also march in the Grandview Community Parade Thursday evening beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Again this year the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) will host two days of rodeo action, complete with cowboys thrills and a new clown, said Fisher.
"We're hoping to start off each night of the rodeo with a section of children's mutton bustin', assuming we can get some sheep," said Fisher.
The rodeo grand entry, featuring the Cascade Cowgirls, will begin at 7:30 p.m. each evening.
"This is our second year to have a PRCA-sanctioned rodeo and we're very excited to have the professional cowboys back for this year's event," Bradshaw said.
A western dance is planned following the rodeo Friday night and a teen dance will follow Saturday's rodeo action.
A new event this year at the fairgrounds will be a car show to take place on Saturday, Bradshaw added.
"We're expecting cars of all types, from classic to street rods, for this show," he added.
"We're also privileged to have the 1st U.S. Cavalry Regiment, Washington Civil War Association joining us at the fairgrounds this year," Bradshaw said.
He said the historic group will be providing a replica of a Civil War garrison camp as it would have been constructed in that era.
"Whether you are a history buff or not, this live camp display from the 1860s is going to be something to see," he added.
The 1st Regiment will also be appearing in the community parade.
In addition to the popular open class exhibits and displays, there will be 4-H and FFA members showing and selling their animals and displaying their home economics projects. Adults will also have an opportunity to competing for bragging rights in a variety of areas, from the domestic arts to hobbies and gardening in the open class building.
"And don't forget to catch the popular Diaper Derby set for Friday evening," Bradshaw added. The diaper derby is set for 7 p.m. on the stage.
Admission to the fair is again $7 for adults and $6 for children, ages 6 to 12, and senior citizens. Season passes are available at the cost of $19 for adults and $15 for children and senior citizens.
The Sunday events are free to the public.