COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — The North Idaho Fair is expecting record-breaking numbers for its 2021 event.
The event brings in around 100,000 people on a normal year, according to Kootenai County Fairgrounds General Manager Alexcia Jordan. This year, they doubled the length of the fair. This means she is expecting around 200,000 people for the ten-day event.
North Idahoans waited two years for the petting zoo, funnel cake and carnival.
"2019 was our last fair," Jordan said. "We really missed everybody in 2020."
After last year's fair was canceled due to the pandemic, it is in full swing this year. Normally the event is five days, but this year it is 10. The idea to double the number of days was in the works already, but after missing last year's fair, they decided to push forward with a ten-day event.
"We've been selling out our shows every night and it's been getting pretty crowded, so we just thought that it would create a better guest experience if we offered more days to come," Jordan added. "When everything kind of came together, it just seemed like it was the right time."
But the pandemic hasn't ended. About 40% of the area is vaccinated, with their ICUs being dangerously close to full, according to the Panhandle Health District. Looking at the fair, it wouldn't be evident the coronavirus is in full force.
"We're trying to do our part to keep our community safe, and yet still allow them to come out and make their best choice," she said. "That's their choice if they want [a mask]."
They are strongly encouraging masks, she said. Surveying the entire area, only a handful of people were wearing masks. She added that they also have sanitation stations. The only places to disinfect are by a food area and the port-o-potties.
This comes after Idaho Gov. Brad Little made an impassioned plea, strongly urging everyone to get the COVID-19 vaccine to help keep children safe. Schools are getting back into session, but COVID-19 case counts are sky-rocketing. Little has been begging Idahoans to get the COVID vaccine for months now. With low vaccination rates and the highly contagious Delta variant circulating in Idaho communities – which is twice as contagious as the original strain, Idaho is predicting cases to exceed last year's peak for daily case counts in as soon as October, according to epidemiologists with the State.
Some vendors did end up canceling due to safety reasons, but the vast majority are there and ready to help the local economy, she said.
"There have been some people that, you know, decided it's better for them not to come and that's okay," she said. "We're just here to have a good time."
• Monster truck shows Friday and Saturday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
• Demolition derby both Sundays, Aug 22 and 29 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
• Xtreme Bulls PRCA bull riding Thursday Aug. 26 from 6:30 to 9 p.m.
• PRCA rodeo from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Aug. 27-28, and 1:30 to 4 p.m. on Aug. 29.
• Draft Horse Pull on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., free admission
• Party in the Dirt Concert series Monday and Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
Jordan recommends buying tickets early online as the arena events sell out fast. Tickets are $13 for bleachers, $20 for grandstands, except Aug. 29 rodeo tickets are $14 for grandstands.