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The history of the Spokane County Interstate Fair

The Interstate Fair first came to Spokane in 1882. It moved to its current location 72 years ago and has been a staple in the Spokane community ever since.

SPOKANE, Wash. — The excitement heard from colorful rides to the cheers coming from a four-legged race is something you'll hear year after year at the Spokane Interstate Fair.

"I can't imagine being anywhere else. These two weeks of the first of September except here," Bonnie Sewell said.

Sewell has worked at the fair for 31 years.

"It's just a real fun place to be and I always tell everybody, 'you have to keep smiling' because that's part of being at the fair and having fun," Sewell said.

She's seen the fair change over time. New grandstands were built, the food court expanded, and new rides have taken over.

"We used to have everything in tents and things like that," Sewell said. "Now, they have actual non-movable spaces."

But, even the fair dates Sewell. It might be surprising to hear just how old the Spokane Interstate Fair actually is.

"Back in 1882, Spokane had its first fair," Fair Coordinator Jessie McLaughlin said.

She says the fair was in multiple locations before it found its current spot, including downtown and Corbin Park. The fair moved to where it is now in 1952.

"We try to make magic for families and memories here," McLaughlin said. "When we ask people what are the top three reasons they come to the fair every year, it's typically the entertainment, the food and the animals."

As for others who grew up coming to the fair, they now work there.

"We've been coming up here for years. It's grown quite a bit," Ron Nelson said.

Nelson first went to the Spokane Fair in the late 60s. Now, he's a food vendor.

He says it feels like a walk down memory lane every year he comes. Nelson wants to carry on that tradition with his family.

"It gets the community together. It gets everybody together," Nelson said.

The fair has also seen an increase in visitors the past several years.

"People just love to come because it's something other than what they have to do every day," Nelson said. "They look forward to every year coming out."

While a whopping 215,000 people attend the fair last year, organizers expect more than that this year.

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