The 65th annual Silvana Community Fair opens its gates Saturday, July 28, at 9 a.m. This year, however, for the first time in over forty years, something-or rather, someone--will be missing from the annual event.
This year's fair is being dedicated to the memory of longtime Fair Board president Roy Strotz, who passed away suddenly in February. For many years Strotz was the main man behind the scenes, presiding over the monthly meetings of the Fair Board with a gentle smile that showed the love he had for the fair. In his absence, several members of the board have stepped up to new responsibilities to ensure that the fair continues to be a beloved community tradition.
To help commemorate Strotz's contributions, all of the fair volunteers will be wearing Roy's signature red Silvana Fair T-shirts. The red-shirted volunteers are happy to help visitors with any questions as Strotz's spirit continues to provide inspiration.
The Silvana Fair is free to attend and even the parking is free, because it is completely planned, organized, and run by volunteers. Trophies, ribbons, and improvements to the fair are funded from the proceeds of the annual fundraising auction, held the second Saturday in March in Silvana, where all are welcome, and admission is free.
The week before the fair is a busy one in Silvana as the exhibitors and their families gradually put the fairgrounds together. Soon, drivers passing through the quiet little town of Silvana will notice increasing activity on the fairgrounds behind Viking Hall, as each evening brings more progress and the anticipation builds. The Silvana Fair truly is a labor of love.
The Silvana Fair marks the beginning of fair season in the northwest. It always takes place on the last Saturday in July in downtown Silvana at the Fairgrounds and in Viking Hall. It is only about two and a half miles from Silvana to Interstate 5, but it feels generations removed from modern day hustle and bustle at the fair.
There are kids proudly exhibiting cows, sheep, goats, dogs, pigs, chickens, ducks and rabbits. A display of vintage tractors attracts curious children of all ages, while inside Viking Hall, the tables are covered with perfect jars of home canned fruits and vegetables, baskets of fresh eggs, and vegetables of unbelievable size. The scent of fresh flowers mixes with the aroma of grilling hamburgers and kettle corn. On the walls are hanging beautiful quilts and paintings, fascinating educational posters, photographs and more. Kids run in and out, shouting at their parents to come and see the ribbons they won for their arts and crafts or garden produce. Outside, families relax on the benches and watch as the young people display their animals in top show condition. It's just another beautiful day in Silvana.
One of the primary goals of the Silvana Fair is to prepare the community youth for successful participation in the fairs taking place later in the summer and fall, and as such, it is considered a learning fair. It is widely known to be a fair where the kids can make mistakes and learn from them while still having a good time. Everyone who goes to the fair is sure to learn something about farm life and rural activities.
People love to see their favorite exhibits and there is always something new to see and talk about, like this year's Tractor Pull. Returning for the third year to close out the fair is the Parade of Champions, where the best of shows in the livestock departments come to show off their prize winning animals for all to see.
While the animal exhibits are limited to youth only, anyone can enter their handiwork or craft. There are numerous divisions, including art, photography, foods and baking, sewing and other needle arts, mechanical, natural and computer sciences, horticulture, and all manner of crafts. The fair premium book, which lists the days and times that exhibits are to be entered, can be found online at www.silvanafair.com.
All entries are judged by the Danish system, which means that they are competing against a set standard of perfection rather than each other. Therefore, there can be several blue ribbons awarded in each class, and generally the one that is closest to the standard of perfection in its class will be awarded a special ribbon or trophy. Youth aged 6 through 19 also receive premium money for their entries.
For nearly all of its 65-year history, the weather has been beautiful on fair day, and we hope this year is no exception. As Roy Strotz said, "The sun always shines on the Silvana Fair."