вторник, 10 июня 2008 г.

The Fair leads to some interesting stories

From a wayward steer to a mysteriously missing prize bunny, The Puyallup Fair wound down Sunday after an eventful year.

More than 1.1 million people visited The Fair over its 17-day run, which didn't set any records as poor summer weather loomed over most of The Fair's season. Still, it ranked in the top 20 fairs in terms of attendance during The Fair's 107-year history.

"We had our share of drizzle and a real shift in weather," said spokeswoman Karen LaFlamme. "The show must go on."

But great weather on The Fair's opening day generated the second largest opening day in its history, and the largest in three decades.

Many of the 71,213 people through the gates on the first day also brought donations for the Puyallup Food Bank this year, generating more food supplies for the agency than its annual main event through the U.S. Postal Service.

The record for opening day attendance is 74,716 set in 1975.

This year, The Fair's four-legged visitors created their own drama to get into the history books.

Harvey, a 2,040-pound steer on show at The Fair, broke through a plate-glass window. Apparently, Harvey was attempting to get closer to a cow, named Maybell, he had been eyeing for a while.

"He was attracted and she just wouldn't pay any attention to him," LaFlamme said.

The problem? Maybell was a plastic cow on display to show children how to milk udders.

The window was quickly boarded up to discourage Harvey.

That steer wasn't the only animal making headlines at The 2007 Fair.

A bunny rabbit named RJ mysteriously disappeared from The Fair just hours after winning a blue ribbon.

During a widespread search for the rabbit, a Puyallup School District groundskeeper stumbled across a box at the Quest Advanced Learning Center and nudged it with his foot. Out popped RJ.

Puyallup police gave the prized bunny a VIP escort to the fairgrounds so RJ could be positively identified.

"There were about 25 police officers all surrounding this little bunny," LaFlamme said.

His identity was confirmed not only because of the "RJ" on his ear, which anyone could have put there, LaFlamme said, but because there wasn't much fur on his paw.

As luck would have it, RJ had been judged shortly before disappearing and lost points because of the paw fur flaw.

It was the first time LaFlamme has ever seen anything like it. Checking around, she couldn't find anyone else who had heard of a 4-H pet being kidnapped at previous fairs.

There are still no leads about who stole the rabbit or how it ended up on school district property.

"But, it was a happy ending," she said.

For the second year in a row, The Fair continued to reach into Tacoma.

Puyallup firefighters representing The Fair visited Mary Bridge Children's Hospital for a day and brought some of the festival atmosphere to its young patients.

The firefighters handed out stuffed animals for patients, provided by Funtastic, along with Fair scones and Wilcox chocolate milk.

Two cartoon characters from The Fair accompanied the firefighters and brought a little cheer to the sick children.

Those who enjoyed it most seemed to be the older youth in their mid-teens, LaFlamme said. Perhaps it reminded them of fonder childhood memories.

"It just worked out beautifully all the way around," LaFlamme said. "We said we definitely wanted to do it again."

Other Fair excitement came from Gov. Chris Gregoire's visit on the last day. To help kick off the YMCA's healthy living program, she strapped on a pedometer and tracked her mileage around the fairground from 9:30 to 11 a.m.

"We were just so pleased to have her here," LaFlamme said.

Gregoire tasted scones, visited exhibits and answered the questions of anyone who came up to her during the same.

All-in-all, LaFlamme said, The Fair was a success.

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