The Fair brings the community together

And it's been doing so for more than a century.

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The Walla Walla Fair & Frontier Days is, once again, under way.

Wednesday night's opening concert featuring Rodney Atkins and Casey James got things off to a great start.

The 146th edition of the fair -- with its theme "Farm Fresh ~ Family Fun" -- opened at 8 a.m. today and will be going strong until 11 p.m. The featured event is the always popular demolition derby, which will likely be sold out. Folks go wild seeing their friends and neighbors smashing and bashing cars -- and each other -- for hours.

Walla Walla has a great many community activities and festivals, but the fair is the most anticipated.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday the rodeo will take center stage with some of the best rodeo talent in America.

New this year is an expanded Wool Busters event, which will give young children an opportunity to try to ride a sheep for eight seconds. This will take place daily on that lawn at 3:30, 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.

The fair parade, which is expected to have about 125 entries, begins at 10 a.m. Saturday. It will be led by parade marshals Leland and Carolyn Hellberg. It will also feature fair royalty -- Joycelin Munden and Taylor Skramstad -- and will include floats, mounted groups, wagons, clowns and cars.

But more important than all the activities and entertainment are the people at the fair. Labor Day weekend is the time is of year many of us catch up with a friends we haven't seen in, well, a year.

The Fair brings the community together. And it has been doing so for well over a century.

The Fair is the oldest in the state of Washington.

The Fair's roots date back to 1863 when a horse track was established north of town, according the Fair website (wallawallafairgrounds.com or bit.ly/QUx2cp).

In 1866, the Walla Walla Agricultural Society staged a large agricultural and industrial exposition to showcase the Valley's crops and the latest farming methods. Since then the event has continued under a variety of names and organizations.

In 1870, the event became the Fair of Washington Territory Agricultural, Manufacturing and Art Fostering Society.

In 1874, it became the Walla Walla County Agricultural Society event. Then in 1886 the name was changed to the Walla Walla Consolidated Agricultural Society.

The event continued in 1903, under the new name, Walla Walla County Fair Association.

In 1936 the name was changed to Southeastern Washington Fair. Two years later Frontier Days was added to the name.

In 1992 the name was changed to Walla Walla Frontier Days and four years later the moniker became what it is today -- the Walla Walla Fair & Frontier Days.

Regardless of the name it has been, and remains, simply the Fair.

It's a special event that folks in this Valley love to attend because it always provides memories to savor.

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