It’s Whidbey Island Fair time!
— Created July 14, 2021 by Kathy Reed
By Kathy Reed
The day has finally arrived – the Whidbey Island Fair is back! The gates are open as of 9:30 a.m. today and the fun will continue through Sunday at the fairgrounds in Langley. The traditional parade will take place Saturday morning at 10 a.m. and will feature grand marshal Gary Gabelein.
After being canceled last year due to the pandemic, organizers say they think the community is ready for some old-fashioned fun.
“I am super excited to be able to go forward with the fair,” said Carol Coble, fair manager. “People are craving to be out and about. I think it’s going to be SUPER busy.”
With many of the COVID-19 restrictions lifted, it means all the fair favorites are back. There will be a carnival, a log show, displays of pretty much everything you’d expect to see at a county fair and lots of good food, according to Coble.
“The food is going to be AMAZING – we have so many new food vendors,” she said.
Besides enjoying all the displays and entries by Whidbey Island residents ranging from food to photography, quilting to canning, people go to the fair to enjoy the entertainment. This year Is no exception – the entertainment schedule is full of a variety of talented performers too numerous to list here. (But you can find the lineup online at whidbeyislandfair.com.)
Pavlo Dobro will be first to take the stage and Pacific Twang is the last group slated to perform on stage. Right in the middle, at 9 p.m. Saturday night, is Hair Nation – a Whidbey fan favorite that pays tribute to the beloved 80s “hair” bands.
“We love it because the 80s were some of the best times in music,” said Tim Sullivan, also known as Bret Meals to Hair Nation fans. “To bring ages from 8 to 80 together, it’s awesome to see them smile, dance and have a good time.”
The rest of Hair Nation includes Johnny Nighttrain (Greg Jamison), JJ Savage (Jason Lillie) and Brent Roxx (Brent Hogenson). The band prides itself on recreating the hair rock scene of the mid 80s and the outfits, banter and dazzling, high energy shows for which the era was famous. Think of one band playing the music and recreating the atmosphere of bands like Poison, Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Def Leppard, Whitesnake Guns N’ Roses and more.
“We take great care in making sure each of our sets has a very relatable, fun, and exciting structure and energy that always fills the room and dance floor,” Sullivan shared. “People love our shows because we give the people what they want. The songs, the show and the RAD feeling of still being in the 80s!”
Sullivan said while the band has been able to perform recently on a limited basis, its members are looking forward to the upcoming appearance at the Whidbey Island Fair.
“We started playing again in March to limited audiences, but to be able to play to a full crowd – it’s like the 80s party just started and we’re ready to live it all over again,” he said. “People can look forward to all the hit songs on Hair Rock packed into two hours. Our silliness and show is what sets us apart from most bands.”
Fair goers should not worry if they can’t make one of the many stage shows. Roving entertainers like Louie Foxx will be on hand to make sure everyone’s having a good time.
“I love it there,” he said. “It’s a blast. The crowds are good, the people are awesome.”
Foxx, who performs all over the country, has appeared at the Whidbey Island Fair several times. Because he calls Seattle home, he said the short trip to Whidbey Island enables him to bring more of his “stuff,” which enables him to offer a good variety of entertainment while at the fair.
“When I drive to Whidbey I can take way more stuff than I will possibly need,” he laughed. “So that allows me to do three, maybe four different versions of my show. I can do a ‘traditional’ setup and build a crowd like a street performer. Or I can do shorter shows for small groups of people – closeup tricks with cards or coins, where all the magic happens inches from people’s faces. I also bring my flea circus. My trained fleas do circus tricks.”
Foxx, who knew he wanted to be a performer since he was in kindergarten, said he’s been doing shows in the northwest for so long he often runs into familiar faces.
“I’ll run into people who have seen my show, but when they were younger,” he said. “Then I’ll run into adults, and I did their parties when they were kids, and now they’re bringing their kids. I keep running into people I have a history with. It surprises me every time.”
Those who see Foxx at the fair could see him wrapped up in 78 feet of chain by audience members, then escape. Or they might see him balance a cup of water upside down.
“We’ll have some fun,” he said. “I do a show that doesn’t take itself too seriously. And I’ll be there every day. I love what I do.”
The Whidbey Island Fair opens daily at 9:30 a.m. through Sunday. The fair closes at 10 p.m. tonight, 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 9 p.m. Sunday. Admission for adults ages 18-64 is $10 daily; admission for senior citizens, military with ID and children ages 6-17 is $6 daily. Children 5 and under are free. Season tickets are also available. Information on parking, exhibits, entertainment and more is available online at whidbeyislandfair.com. Learn more about Hair Nation and Louie Foxx at hairnationrocks.com and louiefoxx.com.
“I’m looking forward to people in the community gathering, smiling, laughing, singing and performing,” Coble said. “People should come to the fair to enjoy the work others have done to showcase their projects.”