GC Fairgrounds will add new events this year

Grant County Fairgrounds is expected to host a variety of events this year, including the annual Grant County Fair and the first annual Tribute Fest of the 90s, said Jim McKiernan, director of Grant County Fairgrounds.

“To be fair, we’re going to announce the headliners in February,” McKiernan said, regarding the live music.

Live entertainment will be a big push for the county fairground team this year, McKiernan told Grant County commissioners at a commissioners’ meeting on Tuesday.

County is not only working to solidify the lineup of bands for the fair itself, but is also working on a ’90s Tribute Fest, which is set to debut in October. The concept of the show is to showcase great bands focusing on the best music from that decade. The lineup already has 10 tentative bands, McKiernan said, and he’s excited to expand the festival and give area residents and county visitors something to look forward to, along with other celebrations held at the fairgrounds.

“The fairgrounds put on just over 180 events a year, most of which are events put on by other people,” McKiernan said. “The fair is one of our own events that we promote. (’90s Tribute Fest) will be the second, and then we’ll try to do a Dia de los Muertos, which is Day of the Dead for the Hispanic population in the area, at the end of October, and so we’re going to try and tackle three events next year.

Overall, big events at the fairgrounds bring in Grant County between $10 million and $12 million a year, McKiernan said. Most of this money is spent by tourists from outside the region who enjoy the festivals, often from Spokane, Portland, Seattle and other areas. The ’90s Tribute Fest, which was originally to be dubbed “Flannel Fest”, is expected to draw around 2,500 attendees, all of whom will be staying at area hotels and spending money on local businesses.

“The problem was that we found out that ‘Flannel Fest’ had been used by a bunch of different bands, and we didn’t want to be confused with anything else,” McKiernan said of the name change.

McKiernan said he and his team plan to announce lineups for both events in February and that VIP tickets should go on sale for the events around the middle of that same month. Otherwise, general admission to the fair and music festival will include free seats for the associated concerts.

Future Farmers of America and 4-H will also be featured at the fair, as always, McKiernan said. The cattle shows in which these groups participate are associated with the county’s annual celebration.

“We expect 4-H and FFA live animal shows and auctions to be larger than 2021,” McKiernan said.

Overall attendance in 2021 was up 25% from the previous year and McKiernan said he expects similar, if not greater, attendance for 2022.

The auction that follows animal shows helps participating students fend for themselves financially, McKiernan said. The animals are placed in the events and then auctioned off and the students receive the proceeds, which they can use to invest in their education or other projects.

“They keep the proceeds from that and they make enough money on animal projects throughout the fair,” McKiernan said.

McKiernan said the fairgrounds brought in more money than its expenses last year of about $57,000, but that’s not the fairgrounds’ goal. It’s not about revenue for the county government, but rather about having fun and attracting tourism, he said.

“I don’t think it does anything for county government, but it’s a damn good time,” McKiernan said.

A. Hans Miller can be reached by email at [email protected]

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