King County Fair offers sense of normalcy for thousands of visitors recovering from pandemic

Thousands of people traveled to Enumclaw over the weekend for the return of the King County Fair. The annual event is back in person after the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to run as a small drive through last summer.

Though there were long lines for food, rides and shows on Saturday, visitors said they were just happy to see smiling faces enjoying the experience.

"We did everything and it’s really, really fun," said Sofia Barry, attending the fair with her friend Tabbi.

Hand sanitizer and hand washing stations were posted throughout the fairgrounds as part of the COVID-19 safety protocols. Some guests said they were a little hesitant returning to large crowds.

"It’s like the first big thing that I’ve done like this big in a while. So, definitely weird," said Barry. "Just like the people and no masks—that’s definitely weird. I’m a mask person myself and I haven’t not worn a mask in a while."

Though there were few, some visitors still masked up during their trip to the fair. Tiara Nixon and Bryan Kopp were visiting with their daughter Violet. All three of them wore masks because Bryan said he has diabetes. 

"She’s not vaccinated for one thing, so we’d just rather be safe than sorry. But we don’t want to miss out on the fun when it’s something as simple as wearing a mask," said Nixon. 

"It’s great. It’s just great to get out again," said Kopp.

Public Health - Seattle & King County has a free vaccination booth in Les Schwab Hall for those who are ready to get their shot or just have questions.

"The name is the county fair really is about community. And public health, if nothing else, is about taking care of our community. So for us, it feels like an opportunity to just get the vaccine in as many arms as possible so we can continue to protect each other," said Stacie Walker, a registered nurse working at the health department’s booth.

Rene Popke, the fair’s executive director, said there are COVID health supervisors throughout the fairgrounds giving recommendations to staff for a safe experience. The health department will offer vaccines again on Sunday in Les Schwab Hall during the fair’s business hours from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M.