Jim Borden, age 12 in the white bonnet, is sitting behind his sister on the Hunters Prairie Junior Ranchers 4-H Club’s fair float, in front of the building that Elma Pharmacy occupies today. It was 1949, and it was the year the fair had returned since closing for the depression and World War II. The banner reads “county fair or bust,” at right.
Yvonne Borden, center, is pictured on the 1957 Dairy Leaders magazine, for her 4-H dairy exhibit at the Grays Harbor County Fair.
Yvonne Borden’s involvement with the fair began before she was even old enough to join 4-H. At the age of 6, she is pictured in front as the second child from left kneeling, with her sisters’ 4-H club, the Busy Beavers. Her mother, Mildred Fisk, is standing in the back, on the left.
The Grays Harbor County Fair has been dedicated to Jim and Yvonne Borden of Satsop. They are long-time volunteers with the fair and have been instrumental in bringing the Antique Farm Engine and Tractor Association’s show to the fairgrounds.
With the fairgrounds gearing up for its annual county fair, dedicated this year to Jim and Yvonne Borden, I began thinking about my earliest memory of the Grays Harbor County Fair. Twenty-two years ago, I was 10, and my family had recently moved to Montesano from the Seattle area. It may have not been the first county fair that I had been to, but it was the first I could remember, and it was a beginning of a tradition that followed for the years to come.
My parents, sister and I strolled through the animal barns, looking at the various animals — my favorite was (and still is) the pigs, and after strolling around for a while, our tummies started grumbling from the smell of the food vending area. I remember vividly those mile-long curly fries that my dad bought and shared with us, as we sat near the racetrack and watched the cars roar around the track.
The next few years my family displayed some of the flowers from their dahlia plants. I remember how excited I was when I visited the fair a few days after entering it, and spotted it from across the room sporting a blue ribbon.
As I grew older, my interest in the fair shifted to include the hot country music stars that graced the stage. My first? Toby Keith’s Dream Walking tour … “We Were in Love” anyone? I had just gotten my driver’s license and was allowed the privilege to take my sister to the concert. I had purchased a special ticket that gave me reserved seating (now called golden circle tickets), and I bought a T-shirt. It was the first concert I had been to in my life, and it set the stage for future concerts I attended.
The following year, I took my sister to see country music star Ty Herndon. Oh Ty, what a heartthrob he was (but man, he was shorter than I expected). I also have a sneaking suspicion that he had one too many sips of the fair’s fresh-squeezed lemonade — but he was great, he signed my ticket stub and posed for a great photo with my sister and I (awww, she was so widdle!).
Now I have three kids, and now I also know what it meant when my grandparents would say that the most fun they had in going places with us as kids, was seeing how much fun we were having. Though my tastes have changed over the years — I still buy a basket of curly fries and enjoy what the county fair has meant to me through all these years, and look forward to returning each year as my children grow, too.
This year’s fair, themed “Our Colors, Our Country, Our Country Fair,” continues to offer quality family entertainment, and features the Charlie Daniels Band, along with many other notable performers and acts. Saturday is the best day to get the most bang for your buck, said fair manager, Mike Bruner. At just $10 per adult for the entire day, fairgoers will have access to the races, The Bayou Boys (Creedence Clearwater tribute band) performance, multiple acts and entertainment lined up with extended fair hours, he explained.
New this year, a discount will be offered to those serving in the military every day the fair is open, fair organizers said.
The fair was appropriately dedicated this year to the Bordens of Satsop, who also grew up around the fair. When the fair re-opened in 1949, after the depression and WWII, Jim and Yvonne began to actively participate with their 4-H groups. Jim was 12 and Yvonne was 9 at the time. The two were married when Yvonne was a senior at Elma High School.
Upon retirement, the Bordens returned to their roots at the fairgrounds and volunteered in a variety of jobs from everything to stuffing envelopes and answering the phones at the raceway to helping at the information booth, and everything in between. They are also credited with bringing the goat mountain exhibit to the fair, and the Antique Farm Engine and Tractor Association show to the fairgrounds several years ago.
For a complete list of events and shows at the Grays Harbor County Fair, visit www.ghcfairgrounds.com/Fair.htm.