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Eager for ribbons: People celebrate opening day at the Grant County Fair

by CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE
Staff Writer | August 18, 2021 1:07 AM

MOSES LAKE — A cool breeze blew across Grant County as members of the American Legion hoisted the flag on the first day of the Grant County Fair.

“The reason we are here is to celebrate Grant County, and this amazing place we call home,” said Grant County Fairgrounds Director Jim McKiernan during the short ceremony opening the fair Tuesday morning.

And he noted it was a good day to hold a county fair, with high temperatures expected in the low 70s.

“The weather has changed a little bit, and honestly, I am glad, because it was too darn hot the last few months,” McKiernan noted. “I’m glad to see a little bit better weather this week.”

It even rained for a few minutes not long after the official start of the fair.

“The sound of the rain falling on this tin roof was amazing,” said Liane Perkins, the fair’s rabbit superintendent, as she stood inside the 4-H and FFA rabbit barn. “I was standing here going, yes!”

It was the first day of the first county fair since 2019, since the response to the COVID-19 pandemic halted most of group and community activities for more than a year.

And even though there was free admission Tuesday — typical for the first day of the county fair — McKiernan said he was expecting crowds 30%-40% larger this year than normal.

“We’re excited about this year. It’s going to be an amazing event,” he said. “I think it’s going to be pretty busy all week. People are dying to get out.”

This year’s fair, which runs through Saturday, features livestock shows, a carnival, and music from Tejano stars Grupo Control and country singers Parmalee.

But according to fair organizers, the event is really all about the kids who work hard in the months and years prior to the fair to show off their livestock.

“I do it for the kids,” said Perkins, who herself showed rabbits and sheep when she was a teen in 4-H and FFA. “They’re good kids, and they work hard, and they deserve to be here.”

Perkins said it was hard last year not having a fair. There was a livestock auction so 4-H and FFA kids could sell their animals, but no one could do it in person, Perkins said.

“They had to drop their rabbits off with me and I took care of them,” she said. “There were no kids, there was no showmanship, no buckles to hand out, it was kind of sad.”

As rabbit superintendent, Perkins said her job is to coordinate with the other members of the livestock committee, make sure the rabbit barn is ready to show, kids are entered and ribbons and awards are ordered and ready to hand out.

“The hardest thing about last year was no kids,” she said.

Grant County Commissioner Danny Stone echoed the sentiment, that the most important people at this year’s fair were the volunteers who help make the fair go and the young people who show their produce and their animals.

“There are a lot of important people out here today, but it’s not about us gathered here, it’s about these kids who have prepared, got their animals ready, their presentations ready, their displays ready,” said Stone.

“They’re out here doing a great job,” Stone added. “We’re here to celebrate them today.”

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Charles H. Featherstone/Columbia Basin Herald

Two members of the Moses Lake American Legion Post 209 raise the flag at the opening ceremony of this year’s Grant County Fair on Tuesday.

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Charles H. Featherstone/Columbia Basin Herald

A girl shows off her rabbit to visitors in the rabbit barn during the first day of the Grant County Fair on Tuesday.