A fair is a fair is a fair, right?

Not exactly. There may be the standard attractions of carnival, stage shows, vendors, and more food choices than can be believed, but each fair should have some new things and some shows, contests or displays that are unique to the area, according to Key Peninsula Community Fair Director Mary Graves. “We want demonstrations of what we have on the Key Peninsula,” she says.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture oversees the fairs in this state. To be officially recognized as a fair, an event must be approved by the WSDA fair commissioners — and this year, Graves is working on the official recognition.

Some 50 years ago, the WSDA was instructed by the Legislature to provide funding to support agricultural fairs to keep them going. It’s hard to make money on fairs, and some close for lack of funding. To qualify as an approved fair, the event has to meet certain standards. Fair commissioners, appointed by the governor, visit the fairs to see they are complying with the regulations.

An agricultural fair promotes agriculture with exhibits of livestock, agricultural products, related arts and manufactures, educational contests, displays, and demonstrations to train youth, promote welfare of farm people and rural living. Qualifications include displays of three or more animal categories, three or more of foods, clothing, horticulture, crops, floriculture, arts and crafts. There must be at least three exhibitors, and at least five exhibits in each category, with at least 25 exhibitors total. The fair must also have a written statement of aims and purposes available to the public, and provide special activities for youth development.

A community fair, such as Key Peninsula Fair, must have an organized board of directors, be nonprofit, and show evidence of community support, in order to be officially recognized. Each fair is considered on the basis of area and population served, youth participation, attendance, gate receipts, number and type of exhibits, premiums and prizes paid, community support, successful achievement of the aims and purposes of the fair, yearly improvements to and overall conditions and appearance of grounds and facilities. Monetary allocations made are for reimbursement for payment of premiums and prizes awarded to fair participants.

Donated labor, materials, and equipment for construction, repair, and maintenance of grounds, buildings, and facilities receive a reasonable itemized monetary value in considering fund allocation. Community support is vital for smaller fairs with limited resources. Further criteria of community fairs includes support by service clubs, farm organizations, other groups, and attendance.

Commissioners will be there this year to judge if the KP Fair fits their requirements.

Graves already has plans for next year to include workshops for pets (such as livability of pets with distinct personalities), more demonstrations, and more competitions.

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