Carrie Burrus says the Pierce County Fair stands out from others like it.
Burrus, the beef superintendent for the 66th annual event, has attended every county fair statewide. She said Pierce County’s is notable because it’s affordable, not commercialized, and has a community focus.
“It still has that homey, welcoming, country feel to it,” she said.
Frontier Park in Graham was filled with country sights, sounds and smells Thursday morning for opening day of the four-day event. The sounds of crowing roosters and bleating goats were broken up by the laughter of kids and families enjoying the booths and attractions.
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Chuck Tibbs of Graham helped run a food booth with a group from the Puyallup Elks. He said the Elks are the longest running vendor at the county fair.
For a decade he’s been working the booth and serving skewered corn on the cob — boiled, not grilled.
“Why ruin good corn by burning it?” Tibbs quipped.
The weather was sunny and warm, which he said has been consistent over the years.
“It’s a good time of the year,” he said.
The Pierce County Fair is described as a “yearly celebration of rural life, agriculture and good ol’ family values,” according to the fair’s website.
This year’s theme is Barnyard Dynasty, a spin on the popular A&E cable television reality show “Duck Dynasty.”
Camouflage blankets the park with accents of duck decoys. There’s even a “redneck colorin’ station” set up near the cattle exhibit.
Rides sat idle early on opening day as many visitors headed straight to the 4-H animals.
Jesse Bell of Graham was showing his 5-year-old dog, Juno.
Jesse, president of the 4-H club Pups and Pals, said it was his fourth year competing at the fair.
“She’s a beauty,” the 17-year-old said of his playful St. Bernard.
He said some are intimidated by Juno’s size and her “fierce” bark, but he assured that she’s all bark and no bite.
“She’s a lover not a fighter,” he said.
At the nearby cattle exhibit, 12-year-old Juliana Mrsny was showing her first cow.
The Parkland resident is a member of the 4-H club Outlaw Wranglers and started camping with her family at the fairgrounds on Wednesday.
She has shown pigs at many fairs in the state, including the Washington State Fair in Puyallup. But after seeing how much her friends enjoyed showing cattle, she wanted to give it a try.
Tammy Mrsny, Juliana’s mother and the fair’s swine superintendent, said a lot of the fun happens each day before and after the fair is open to the public with activities such as karaoke, game nights and obstacle courses with the animals.
“It’s not anything you see at a state fair,” she said.
Tammy Mrsny loves the authentic atmosphere surrounding county fairs, especially the one in Pierce County.
“It’s more family-oriented than your typical fair,” she said.