Walla Walla Fair & Frontier Days kicks off today

Tonight's three-band concert is the centerpiece of the first day of the 145th Walla Walla Fair & Frontier Days.

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In preparation for some sweet times at the Fair, Eric Hendershot tops a tower with flags at Mom's Candy Castle Tuesday afternoon at the Fairgrounds. Hendershot and Jay Gilbert (not pictured) were on the castle roof making things ready for those yearning for some food staples of Fair time and the official opening of the Walla Walla Fair and Frontier Days on Wednesday. August 30, 2011

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Seventy-five year old Don Powers takes a "Deere" peek back to the past as he stops for a moment to ponder a John Deere 45 combine circa 1950s Tuesday afternoon at the Fairgrounds. Powers ran pull machines---combines pulled by caterpillar tractors---back in his younger days and had paused, while waiting for his wife, to remember his harvest years and the big, green machines that were a part of his life. August 30, 2011

Time to saddle up, gather the family and make plans to attend the oldest fair in the state of Washington.

The 145th Walla Walla Fair & Frontier Days officially opened its gates this morning, ushering in the five-day event that's rooted in local history, tradition and community spirit.

In line with this year's theme, people started "Makin' Tracks to the Fair" at 11 a.m.

The traditional exhibits are on display and spectators are gawking at farm animals while biting into burgers and pigging out on corn dogs.

In addition, carnival rides are spinning and a bushel of entertainment awaits on the Pepsi Stage and in the Pavilion at no extra charge.

Soon patrons will be lining up for tonight's three-bands-in-one concert featuring The Band Perry, LoCash Cowboys and Joey+Rory. The show starts at 6:30 p.m.

Thursday's featured event is the Demolition Derby -- dubbed a "smash hit" -- which promises 200 entries on a crash course beginning at 6 p.m. Spectators will be treated to about 35 "heat races" ending with the finale.

Friday is Kids Day when ages 6-13 are admitted for $2. (Children 5 and under get into the fair free.)

About 400 cowboys and cowgirls will buck for shares of $50,000 added purse money at the Frontier Days Rodeo on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7 p.m. Events include bareback, saddle bronc and bull riding, in addition to tie-down roping, steer wrestling, team roping and barrel racing. A video instant replay scoreboard will be a special attraction. Also, mutton busting will be featured each night before the rodeo gets under way.

The fair parade with about 125 entries will march downtown Saturday starting at 10 a.m. Led by the parade marshals Rose Hof and Connie Vinti, the event will spotlight the current fair royalty -- Queen Madeline Jensen, and princesses Brittney Cutlip and Amanda Jo Quintal -- and include the usual array of floats, mounted groups, wagons, clowns and cars.

Livestock projects will be exhibited in the barn areas at the fairgrounds each day.

All-day public parking is available for $5 across Orchard Street in the Garrison Middle School parking lot and in the lot across from Tietan Street.

No state-licensed pari-mutuel horse races will take place this year.

But several new attractions are planned. Television host and author Cee Dub will conduct Dutch oven cooking demonstrations, past fair court royalty members will participate in various events, mounted shooting will be exhibited and Scott Campbell, captain of the Seabrooke from Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch," will be on hand.

Appropriately "fair" weather is predicted this week, with mostly sunny skies, but cooler. Highs will be in the 70s and 80s.

Terry McConn can be reached at terrymcconn@wwub.com or 526-8319.

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