The King County Fair's often called "the oldest fair west of the Mississippi," but not long ago it almost disappeared.
"Three years ago, I came out here and brought my granddaughter. There were about 10 rides and maybe 50 people," said Enumclaw Expo Center General Manager Scott Gray.
Scott Gray says the fair was losing too much money for Enumclaw, despite its importance for the community. It's the only state qualifying competition for 4-H students like Maggie Bosik.
"I want to be a veterinarian and a horse trainer," Bosik said.
Livestock are a huge part of the fair, with kids learning to be King County's next generation of agricultural leaders.
"She wants to go on to be a veterinarian. Most of these kids go onto a state type ag school. They become farmers, they become dairymen, and that perpetuates food and good health and good living for our state. So, it's all very positive," Gray said.
And for Gray, that's reason enough to save the historic fair. He created a non-profit two years ago and named himself the head while quickly assembling a team. They rallied the community and brought in new events. That's grown the crowd by several thousand every year.
A couple years ago, only about 7,500 people attended. Last year, attendance climbed to 35,000. Now, Gray hopes the fair will someday pay for itself.
"But like today my biggest fear is I'm throwing a party starting tomorrow, and what if no one comes? So come! Please!" he said with a laugh.
For kids like Bosik, 4-H helps toward college admission and scholarships, even though at 10 she doesn't know what college she'll attend.
"I'm not sure yet, but I know it's going to be a good one," she said.
The King County Fair looks a lot different today than it did in 1863.
"This is the 155th year of this fair. Abraham Lincoln was President the first year the fair ran. The Battle of Gettysburg was taking place. That's history, and we need to save that," Gray said.
General admission is $10 with several discounts. The fair runs July 13-16.
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