Community Link Archive

September 2, 2016


What's new at 150-year-old Walla Walla Fair and Frontier Days

By Bill Clemens
Regional Business Manager

When the Walla Walla County Fair and Frontier Days started in 1866, Andrew Johnson was president, Queen Victoria’s navy ruled the waves and Washington statehood was still 23 years in the future. For 106 of those years, Pacific Power has been proud to be part of the community that celebrates its heritage in this unique way.

As the fair hits its stride this weekend, after opening Aug. 31, it is tempting to look at the past with all of the sepia-print charm of the early years or marvel at how the demolition derby cars change make, model and color over the decades. I have my own strong memories of being involved with the fair for the past 18 years as regional business manager for Pacific Power. I grew up in Eastern Oregon in the 1960s and 1970s and I remember taking my first trip to Walla Walla. It was with my best friend to see his grandparents. I had a great time and wondered at that time what it would be like to live here.

Walla Walla Fair & Rodeo - old photo

But years of serving on the fair board and now its foundation board has shown me that Frontier Days is even more about the future: the local kids who have raised their animals with love and care, the improvements to the fairgrounds so that they can be a year-round asset to the community. And, yes, the energy efficiency projects done in recent years that will save the fair money and reduce power usage, which helps us all.

New this year are camel rides, which I may pass on, and a Dutch oven cooking contest, which I know I will sample. My favorite moment every year at the fair is at the beginning of the rodeo. The singing of the National Anthem with the flag being brought in horseback. The crowd goes silent as the horse and rider makes their way around the arena. It gives me goose bumps and reminds me what America is all about.

For the 12th straight year, we have been involved in another forward looking action involving the fair. Our Blue Sky renewable energy customers have been greening the fair. This means, they buy enough renewable power to offset the energy used by the fair, the lights, rides and loudspeakers all use electricity, unlike in 1866. This year the power to run the fair is equal to about what 60 average Washington residences use in a year.

Walla Walla Rodeo - bronc rider

We are always proud to sponsor the opening night concert, this year it is Montgomery Gentry, the demolition derby and the fair court. I am so impressed with the young ladies that serve as the fair court every year. They work so hard and are great ambassadors for the fair and Walla Walla County. My personal favorite is to take in all of the 4-H exhibits. The kids show their dedication and are so thrilled when they get a ribbon.

I am also looking forward to being in the parade along with all of the other past board members. At least I won’t be on a horse this time.

See you there!

Watch a short video that will play at the fair and rodeo

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