The Washington County Fair is back in Hillsboro this Thursday through Sunday.

STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Jennica Gonzales, 13, made the drive from Eastern Washington last year to have fun at the Washington County Fair.Bring on the food, the rides, the animals!

The Washington County Fair kicks off Thursday, July 26, bringing four days of fun to the Washington County Fair Complex in Hillsboro.

Last year, more than 112,000 people visited the fair during its four-day stretch at the Washington County Fair Complex. It's possible the crowd at this year's fair will be even bigger.

According to the fairgrounds' marketing and events coordinator Lisa DuPré, aside from years where extreme heat kept fair-goers at home, there has been a steady increase in attendance over the last several years.

Because the free fair usually attracts large crowds, fair officials are asking people to consider carpooling, using ride-share programs or taking the MAX or bus to the fair complex.

Check it out

What: Washington County Fair

Where: 873 N.E. 34th Ave., Hillsboro

When: 10 a.m. to midnight, Thursday, July 26 – Sunday, July 29

How Much: Free

"Due to the big attendance numbers, we encourage people to look at other means of transportation rather than their personal vehicles," DuPré said.

The fair will be offering free shuttles, running every 20 minutes from the Fair Complex's MAX station to the fair's main entrance gate.

For those that do take their own vehicles, parking will cost $10 or $15 for over-sized vehicles.

Organizers have an extra obstacle to contend with this year, after the county condemned and demolished a handful of buildings on the property, including the fair's main exhibit hall.

Fair organizers say all of the exhibits will be on display, despite the removal of the main exhibit hall and the sheep barn. Other buildings are undergoing repairs.

The main exhibit hall was previously used for 4-H exhibits and presentations, which will be moved to the smaller Cloverleaf Building on the fairgrounds. An added tent will be adjacent to the Cloverleaf Building to accommodate the exhibits that don't fit in the Cloverleaf.

Sheep, steers and goats will be on display under a large tent. It's not the first time the fair has utilized temporary structures for the fair, said Washington County 4-H youth development faculty member Pat Willis. In years past, tents were used for pigs during the fair.

"It works out OK with the tent," Willis said. "Visitors usually prefer a barn because it feels like a farm, but the tents work."

Washington County 4-H is bringing more than just animals to the fair. They will have exhibits with baked goods, kid-made needlework and woodwork, as well as science and technology exhibits and presentations.

Even with the recent building removals and repairs, the Fair Complex was able to accommodate all of 4-H's animals, exhibits and presentations, which is what matters, Willis said.

In addition to the 4-H animals, exhibits and presentations, kettle corn, funnel cake, carnival games, and rides, this year's Washington County Fair will include a giant animatronic bug exhibit and freestyle motocross shows.

This year's new bug exhibit, titled "Bug-ology," will feature large animatronic bugs, alongside live insects, interactive and educational games and even a daily bug-tasting. The exhibit will be in Friendship Plaza.

Fair attendees can watch motocross riders soar, flip and fly their dirt bikes through the air at the Fair Complex Arena. Monster Energy Worldwide Tour, the largest freestyle motocross organization in the world, will have freestyle shows three times each day that will be free to everyone at the fair.

Concerts by classic rock band ZZ Top and contemporary Christian band Casting Crowns and country singer Dustin Lynch and will take place Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at the Demar Batchelor Concert Grounds. Tickets for those shows cost $28 for general admission and $35 for reserved seats. Chairs are only provided for those with reserved seats. General admission may bring their own chairs or blankets. Tickets must be purchased online.

"We are fully expecting good crowds for that lineup," DuPré said.

Local bands Brady Goss, Brewers Grade, The Junebugs, Jessie Leigh Band and The Band Fresh, will also perform each day on the Crown Royal Stage by the BFF Taphouse. These performances will not require payment for tickets.

By Hollw Bartholomew
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