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AUGUST 18, 2017

Hold on to your hat ! The fair’s coming! Exhibits, animals, food, entertainment and rides — it’s all at the Kitsap County Fair & Stampede By LESLIE KELLY


For more than 90 years residents of Kitsap County, their friends and neighbors have enjoyed all the elements of a down-home county fair. This will be the 94th Kitsap County Fair & Stampede, from Aug. 23 to 27 at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds in Bremerton. The Kitsap County Fair & Stampede takes place annually for the purpose of educating, entertaining and creating a better quality of life for the residents of Kitsap County and surrounding

counties, according to members of the fair board. It teaches youth historical lessons so they may better understand what has shaped Kitsap County to become what it is today and what it will become in the future, board members said. It promotes agriculture so that consumers may better understand the source of their food and fiber. It also provides information to consumers so they may make better choices of products and ideas in their own lives. Competitive exhibits are another one of the tools that it used to educate customers. And there’s always a lot to do. On the midway at the fairgrounds, there will be a full array of carnival rides by Davis Amusements, and a separate section of rides at the Kiddie Carnival for the younger kids. Visit all the 4-H exhibits, including animals and textiles, and the exotic bird section. Competitive adult exhibits are located in Presidents

Hall. And, of course, there will be many food booths and a full selection of food in the Van Zee building. Come get your favorite — corn dog, hamburger, scone, cotton candy or ice cream, just to mention a few. Inside the Kitsap Sun Pavilion, merchants and nonprofits will tell you about their products or what they do. Be sure to save time to meander through the rows and rows of great gifts, home improvement items, and handy-dandy gadgets. Many people come to the fair to see the livestock. This year the barns will be full and there’ll be cows, pigs, lambs, cats, dogs and rabbits to see. One of the highlights of the fair is the rodeo and stampede. Things get started on Wednesday night with the Xtreme Bulls. Come out and see the top bull riders in the country compete for the $10,000 purse and earn points in standings for the final Xtreme Bulls competition. The PRCA Xtreme Bulls Tour showcases the PRCA’s top bull

riders and some of the rankest bulls the world has to offer. The bull riders include contestants who advance through Xtreme Bulls qualifying events. It starts at 6:30 p.m. On Aug. 24, 25 and 26, there’s rodeo action every evening beginning at 6:30 p.m. Each night competition will take place in eight events: bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, barrel racing, and bull riding. Members of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association will travel to Kitsap County and will compete for the best in each category. Amateur contestants also will take part. The Kitsap Destruction Derby is set for the last day of the fair, Aug. 27 in the Thunderbird Arena. Gates open at 2 p.m. Time trials begin at 4 p.m. and racing is set to begin at 5 p.m. Major music entertainment will include Shameless, on Wednesday night after the rodeo; Daryle Singletary on See FAIR, Page 3

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used year-round for various events such as Destruction Derby, draft horse show, monster trucks and more. The complex has an annual overall attendance at its various events of more than 211,000.

Continued from page 2 Thursday; The Olson Bros Band on Friday and the Michael Anthony Pratt Band on Saturday. Concerts are free with that day’s fair admission and will happen on the stage at the Cowboy Corral, near Thunderbird Stadium. Concerts are expected to begin at 8:30 p.m.

Preparation for the fair begins right after the previous year’s fair ends, according to Jim Dunwiddie, director of the Kitsap County Parks and Recreation. And on the Saturday two weeks before the fair, more than 300 volunteers come out for “Super Saturday.”

Entertainment on the Pepsi Community Stage includes the annual diaper derby contest, the bubble gum blowing contest, animal calling contest, and don’t forget the seed-spitting contest. Local talent includes the Farragut Brass band, Slieveloughane Irish Dancers, Kitsap Square Dancers and the Whisker Club Contest with Bruce Roe. All of this is hosted by Cowboy Buck and Elizabeth Stierle.

“Volunteers put fresh paint on many of the buildings and clean up the fairgrounds,” he said. “These are the people who make sure we’re ready to open.” He noted, too, that many of the members of the fair board work full time and take vacation the week of the fair so that they can be there to help.

On the West Hills Auto Stage, performances include returning fair favorites such as Karen Quest – Cowgirl Tricks, a unique fun-filled vaudeville-style western comedy act complete with trick roping, whip cracking, music and lots of Davis Amusements rides will return to this year’s fair, on the Midway. Rides are open noon surprises. She also performs on stilts as to 10 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday. “Lucky Starr,” an eight-foot tall cowgirl, as she engages audiences with her File photo special brand of Western humor. Kevin the Bremerton Senior Center; Thursday: was held in Port Orchard from 1923 to Wolfe, Comedy Hypnosis, is a fast paced the Kitsap County Fair dance contest, 1929. Then it moved to Roosevelt Field and funny hypnosis show that will keep sponsored by Irene School of Dance; in Bremerton. It moved to its present everyone laughing. With Wolfe’s special Friday: hotdog location in 1958. improvisational eating contest style, you never “On the Pepsi Community In 1929, exhibitors at the fair totaled sponsored by know what’s going 1,000; today there are more than 6,000, Stage, entertainment Smokin’ Robinsons to happen. with annual attendance of 80,000. restaurant; and includes the annual diaper Rhys Thomas and In the late 1950s, the Chief Kitsap Saturday, the Kitsap his JuggleMania Stampede sold stock certificates for derby contest, bubble gum County pie eating also performs. $1 and constructed the Thunderbird contest. blowing and seed-spitting.” Arena. When completed it held 12,000 Other fair FIRST FAIR IN spectators. In the late 1970s, portions of entertainment 1923 the arena were condemned. The covered includes shows The first recorded Kitsap County Fair grandstands were later added. Today daily at 1:30 p.m. On Wednesday: Kitsap happened in 1923 in Port Orchard, some the arena holds 5,000 spectators and is County Fair Senior contest sponsored by 15 miles from its present location. It

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“They’re really very dedicated folks,” he said. Each year the fair board also looks over a list of suggested themes that have been submitted from fair supporters, he said. “We’ve had lots of suggestions and we keep track of them,” he said. “The board sits down after the last fair and chooses the theme for the coming year.” The theme chosen for this year is “Hold on to Your Hat.” For more details, or to download a map of the fairgrounds, go to www. kitsapgov.com. The fairgrounds is located at 1200 Fairgrounds Road NE, and there is plenty of parking on the grounds and in nearby lots.



AUGUST 18, 2017

Fair information and schedule of events FAIR HOURS: ​Wednesday through Saturday, Aug. 23-26: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 27: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Carnival rides open at noon each day and will close at 10 p.m. daily, except Sunday when they close at 7 p.m.

OTHER EVENTS: Wednesday, Aug. 23: 6:30 p.m. — Xtreme Bulls Rodeo Thurs. through Saturday, Aug. 24-26 6:30 p.m. — PRCA PRO Rodeo Sunday, Aug. 27 1 p.m. — Kitsap Destruction Derby

FAIR ADMISSION: Wednesday through Saturday, $10 for adults, seniors 60 and older and youth ages 6 to 12 $7. Children 5 and younger are free.

Barrel racing is among the popular rodeo events at the fair each year. Contributed photo

Thursday, Aug. 24 Hero Day — $5 (for Military & First Responders) Fair & Rodeo Admission

Friday, Aug. 25 Pepsi Day — $1 until 1p.m. Fair Admission Only

Sunday, Aug. 27 Family Day — $7 Fair Admission Only

Don’t forget to take in “A Walk On The Wild Side,” and the “Big Shot Woodcarvers.”

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DAILY SHOWS (Wednesday through Saturday) on the West Hills Auto Plex Center Stage: ​Karen Quest, Cowgirl Tricks, 11 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. On Sunday, 11 a.m., noon, 2:30 p.m. Kevin Wolf — Comedy Hypnosis, 5:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m. On Sunday, 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Rhys Thomas Jugglemania, noon and 4 p.m.

AUGUST 18, 2017



Music performances are a big part of the fair By LESLIE KELLY


There’s no doubt that some who come to the Kitsap County Fair come to hear the music. And this year’s fair is filled with great bands of all kinds. “Shameless,” a Northwest band, will play at 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 23. The classic rock and blues band has been rockin’ the Northwest for more than 20 years with Mickey Eaton, Marilyn Fick and Tom Pike. With a nice blend of popular covers and originals, this band give you a mix of classic musicians with a slice of youth, making it a great show. They are one of the longest,

Daryle Singletary Contributed photo

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Kitsap County bands around. ​Thursday will bring country favorite Daryle Singletary to the Cowboy Corral to perform. He is from rural Georgia. His father is a retired postmaster and his mother is a hair dresser. They sang gospel music on weekends. By the time he reached his teens, Singletary was a rabid country music fan, enthralled by the sounds of Keith Whitley and his alltime favorite Randy Travis. He moved to Nashville in fall 1990 and made the rounds of Music City’s nightclub talent contests, picking up $100 here and there. Producer Greg Cole began playing drums in his band at a club called The Broken Spoke. He recorded a pair of singles for the independent label Evergreen Records in 1992, but neither was a success. In the meantime, he was badgering his idol with letters. After members of the Randy Travis Band heard him at The Broken Spoke, they urged Travis to listen, too. With Travisas his co-producer, Singletary issued his debut album on Giant Records in 1995. The album included the careerlaunching singles “I’m Living Up to Her Low Expectations,” “I Let Her Lie,” “Too Much Fun” and “Workin’ It Out.” His subsequent projects included the hits “Amen Kind Of Love”, “The Used To Be’s,” and “The Note.” In 2015, he released “There’s Still A Little Country Left.” He plays a large circuit of county fairs and corporate events. The Olson Bros Band will play on Friday, from 8:30 p.m. to midnight. The Olson Bros Band burst onto the country music scene in 2013 winning the Lake Fair Battle of the Bands and a national country songwriting contest with their

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Shameless will play at the Kitsap County Fair Aug. 23. They play classic rock and blues. Contributed photo

song “Sunrise,” which earned them a trip to Nashville where they were introduced at The Grand Ol’ Opry. The band originated in Olympia and is led by singers and songwriters Luke and Isaac Olson. They are currently playing shows all over the Northwest and Nashville, and have more than 50 shows on their summer schedule including an opening gig for Craig Morgan, country music festivals, concerts in the park, and wineries. The Olson Bros have been enjoying a

little radio time throughout Washington and are also known for their energy on stage and their sweet vocal harmonies. Isaac and Luke love performing but also enjoy writing music and have spent some time writing songs in Nashville. Their first album has lots of great music, some written together and some in collaboration with Brandon Kinney who has written songs for Randy Houser (“Going Out With My Boots On”), Craig See MUSIC, Page 18

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AUGUST 18, 2017

Miss Kitsap Fair and Katie Kitsap ready to go



If you’ve ever wanted to meet real royalty, now’s your chance. The 2017 Miss Kitsap Fair & Stampede and 2017 Miss Katie Kitsap will be a part of this year’s county fair. ​​Dakota Damschen, Miss Kitsap Fair & Stampede, 18, is the daughter of Elizabeth and John Carr and William Damschen of Seabeck. She graduated in June from Klahowya Secondary School, and will be attending Olympic College with plans to become a radiology technician. After Olympic, she plans to go to Tacoma Community College where she can study her specialty. Damschen began riding when she was about 2 years old. “But if you ask my mom she will tell you ‘Dakota has been riding since before she could walk,’” Damschen said. “My first horse was a Shetland pony named Jessica. I rode her up and down Erlands Point Road as often as I could.” Damschen has participated in rodeos since she was 5 years old and is a first

generation cowgirl. “I have been a member of the Northwest Junior Rodeo Association for the last 13 years,” she said. “As this year will be my last year in the NWJRA, I am also a Northwest Professional Rodeo Association card holder. At the junior rodeos I compete in barrels, poles, breakaway, team roping, steer daubing, goat tying, flags, cal stake and trail. In the pro rodeos, I compete in barrels and breakaway roping.”   She competes with her two horses, Pistol and Jojo. Rodeo is a family thing. “We are all involved,” she said. “My sister and I are the only ones who compete in rodeo, but my parents are involved in many ways. Both of my parents sponsor many rodeo events each year. One example of this sponsorship is Dakota Damschen will serve as Miss Kitsap Fair Corey’s Day on the Farm for Special Needs Children. My mom also does & Stampede. hospitality and VIP dinners for the Contributed photo Thunderbird Rodeo in Silverdale.

Kitsap Public Facilities District is dedicated to community partnerships that drive economic development throughout the County. Successful Partnerships Include: • Kitsap Conference Center, with the City Of Bremerton • Kitsap Fairgrounds and Event Center, with Kitsap County & Parks Dept. • NK Regional Event Center, with Kitsap County, City of Poulsbo and NK School District KPFD Event Fund

Kitsap PFD has up to $5K each for organizations that need funds to promote/market local events being held at one of our partner facilities this year. Learn more at www.kitsappfd.org/eventfund.html

She has been a big supporter of my sister and I through all of our years of rodeo.” Becoming the Kitsap Rodeo Queen is an involved process, she said. “Last October, I competed in the Miss Kitsap Fair and Stampede 2017 pageant,” she said. “It was rigorous. It was an all-day pageant for which we practiced and studied for months. Each contestant was judged by a panel of three very qualified judges. We each presented a three-minute speech, several interviews, impromptu questions and modeled clothing. My favorite section, though, was the horsemanship competition. I won horsemanship, congeniality, speech, and several other categories.” Her duties now include representing the Kitsap County Fair and the sport of rodeo. “I travel all around Washington state to make appearances and to invite people to our rodeo,” Damschen said. “Already this year I have been in three See ROYALTY, Page 19


AUGUST 18, 2017


It’s a lot more than just smashing cars



To the untrained eye, it might look like a bunch of cars just going at each other. But to expert drivers in the sport, it’s more of a science. We’re talking Destruction Derby. “You have to know something about the mechanics of a car or truck, and know how to drive to be successful at this,” said Bria Steele, one of a handful of women drivers in the local club. “To some people it looks like we’re just out there banging into each other. But it’s more of a game than that.” Steele and driver Dan Pieze belong to the Kitsap Destruction Derby Association. That club will put on the Destruction Derby at the Kitsap County Fair, as the club has done for many years. The Destruction Derby will begin at 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 27 at the Thunderbird Arena. Gates open at 2 p.m. and time trials begin at 4 p.m. According to Pieze, there will be about 10 to 15 drivers in full-size trucks going head-to-head, or maybe, rear-to-rear, and side-to-side. Drivers are timed and they have a limited amount of time in which to make contact with another car. The races are emceed over a loud speaker. The drivers are all club members and are well trained in how to drive and hit safely in the derby and are fully equipped with safety gear. “This is a full-contact sport,” Pieze said. “What we’re really known for is our racing.” Indeed. The drivers do figure 8 racing, oval and then the derby finale. There are two classes, full-size cars and compacts. And at some races, there’s a division for trucks. Most drivers will get up to 40 miles an hour on dirt tracks, and 60 miles an hour on paved tracks, such as at the fairgrounds in Monroe, Washington. The association is in its 47th year. According to the KDDA’s website, it grew out of stock car racing when that club held demonstrations for the “drivers who like to bump a little too much.” Today, the KDDA has about 40 local members who come together once or twice as month to race at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds. The race season runs from May to September. It operates as a nonprofit and has events to raise money for charities, such as Children’s Hospital and local cancer asso-

The Kitsap Destruction Derby Association will host a smashing good time Sunday at the fair. Gates open at 2 p.m. Contributed photo

ciations. “It’s really a family event,” said Pieze. “Most of the drivers today, grew up in it watching their dads race.” That’s also the case for him. His father, Dana, drove. They own Dana’s Heating & Cooling, Inc., which is a sponsor of the association. Today, Pieze drives a 1972 Cadillac. It’s been his Derby car for about the past five years. “How long you can race the same vehicle all depends on how well you know how to build a car and what car you purchased,” he said. “If you know a little something about mechanics and you know where and how to make contact with another car, you can keep a car for years.” The drivers of each car are generally its mechanic, too.

Each driver will repair their car during the off-time and then be back out there for the Saturday races. Each driver also has a pit crew. Sometimes it’s family in the pits, said Steele. She drives a 1966 Imperial. “My sons and their friends work in the pits for me,” she said. “And each of my sons want to drive when they are old enough.” All cars are equipped with bars on the sides of the vehicle, for safety. And there’s a rule that you can’t ram a driver’s side door. The cars are built with a “safety cage” design to

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AUGUST 18, 2017

Big Shot Wood Carvers will show their skills By LESLIE KELLY


Steve Backus was born with a chainsaw in his hands. Well, almost. Backus, who is part of the Big Shot Wood Carvers, is a second-generation chainsaw woodcarver. His mother and father, his uncles and others in the family have all been woodcarvers of the chainsaw kind. “We all grew up around it,” he said of the art. “All of us lived here on the south end of [Whidbey] island and any wooden sign you see around here, we’ve probably made it.” Backus will be one of six of the 40-plus members of Big Shot chainsaw carvers who will be at the Kitsap County Fair Aug. 23-27. Each day they will carve larger pieces that eventually will be sold at an auction on Saturday during the fair. And three times each day, at noon, 2 and 4 p.m., they will carve a block of wood, the size of a large coffee can, into something, in a timed 10-minute competi-

tion with each other. “All the carvers have their own styles,” Backus said. “Some do abstracts and others make figures that are true to life.” As a special event on both Friday and Saturday afternoons, the carvers will “hit the ice.” “Most people think about ice carving as something chefs do for a buffet or a special event,” he said. “But it’s exactly the same as carving on wood. We use the same tools and we do the same thing.” The ice carving will be done in about a 15- to 20-minute demonstration and following it, the crowd on hand will get to vote — by cheering — for the best carved object. Each carver has about six chainsaws with him at the competition. “They weigh from 10 to 20 pounds each,” Backus said. “It’s like with knives, or anything else. You have big ones to do the basics and then you have smaller ones to do the detail work.” Most people think chainsaw carvers are “lumberjacks who’ve been laid off and pick up a chainsaw and start carv-

Steve Backus will carve wood and ice with his chainsaw. Contributed photo

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ing,” he said. “And there’s some truth to that. But in today’s world, it’s become a bit of a performance art.” For Backus, he found it a form of expression, but quickly learned that if he was going to make a living at it, he’d need to leave “the woods on the south end of the island.” “At first, I mostly did tree stumps in people’s yards,” he said. “I traveled from Bellingham to Olympia.” Then he performed with Johnny Miller doing shows at Port Gamble. After about 10 years of that, he decided that traveling the fair circuit was the way to go. He has become the “unofficial official organizer” of the Big Shots, he said. “I probably have 40 chainsaw carver’s numbers in my phone, and that’s only the Daves,” he joked. He has done fairs and shows throughout the U.S. including Montana, Florida, New York, Oregon, and in his home state of Washington. He’s also traveled to Germany and England to make his art and consult about chainsaw carving shows. “It’s something to make a living with a tool that is associated with murders in

Texas,” he said, referring to the movie “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” Carvers have to have an outgoing personality and a sense of humor. “I work with the best,” he said, noting that some are local and some are from other states. “They have to be personable and interact with the public.” Even with different styles, carvers “carve from the heart,” he said. “I’ve seen some incredible works of art. We do different things [at] different places. At the Kitsap Fair, there’s the military influence, so you’ll probably see a few eagles. When we go to Montana, it’s all about cowboys.” Carvers will also bring along a selection of their works that will be for sale. A typical 4-foot bear will run about $400. While it’s uncertain if the next generation of Backus children will chainsaw carve, he is hopeful. “I have three children, two sons and a daughter,” he said. “They are all contemplating taking this up. They all know how to do it.” Only time will tell.


AUGUST 18, 2017


Burgers have been part of the fair for 56 years By LESLIE KELLY


People go crazy for these burgers. And, while you can get them year-round in Bremerton, they’ve been “the fair burger” since 1961. We’re talking Crazy Eric’s. “Last year we served 7,000 burgers and 3,300 corndogs,” said owner Darryl Erickson. “In all, we served more than 1,500 pounds of meat.” Add in the 1,200 pounds of onions and the 2,500 pounds of French fries and you’ve got five very busy days at the fair. Long known as the place to grab a quick burger near Naval Station Bremerton, Crazy Eric’s permanent location at 701 S. National Ave., opened the same year that they began serving burgers at the fair. The “hamburger stand” came about because Erickson had been interested in the fast-food business for as long as he can remember. “I fell in love with hamburgers when I was 2016 about 5 years old,” he said. “My father took me to an A&W and I loved the smell of the onions cooking.” MAY 2016

When he became of age, in 1961, he and his brother, Wayne, began Crazy Eric’s. Today Darryl runs the business with his sons Troy and Sean Erickson. “I love hamburgers,” he said. “I could eat one every day, if it was available — maybe two or three.” While everyone brags about the burgers, they sell a lot more than just burgers. There’s the homemade onion rings, hot dogs, corn dogs, hand-dipped ice cream milk shakes, floats and sundaes. Crazy Eric’s has two contracts with the county, to provide food service on the fairgrounds, he said. For the fair, the business pays $7,175 in rent. For other off-season events throughout the year, they pay $17,000. In 2016, they paid the county $24,175 to offer their food at events at the fairgrounds. “From the very beginning, we have always tried to run our stands with family and offer affordable pricing,” he said. “We are a family business and have been since 1961.” He has a not-so-favorite memory of the first fair when they set up their stand near the stadium.


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Crazy Eric’s burgers have been a favorite of many at the fair. Leslie Kelly photo

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said. “We shortened Erickson to Eric and added the Crazy.” Being a part of the Kitsap County Fair Continued from page 9 has always been important to the Erickson family. “We were looking at it and we thought “We’re looking forward to the Kitsap it looked pretty good,” he said. “We were County Fair open about 15 this year minutes when as much as a bull knocked we did our it over. We had first Kitsap to start all over fair 56 years again.” ago,” he Crazy Eric’s said. will have a locaHe’s tion inside the thankful for Van Zee Food the family Circus building members at the center of and other the fairgrounds, great another in the employees Kitsap Pavillon, he’s had and four stands throughout at the stadium. In Crazy Eric’s burgers and fries are available every day the year. all, there will be at the fair. And he about 35 people Leslie Kelly photo salutes the manning the fair managestands. For the ment and volunteers. location in Bremerton he has 10 employees year-round. “This community has been rewarded by As for the name, Erickson said it came so many volunteers, excellent fair managefrom their last name. ment and fair employees who have contrib“When we first opened, we were lookuted so much to making this five-day event ing for something that would stick,” he possible for young and old alike,” he said.

AUGUST 18, 2017


is an annual publication of Sound Publishing. For information about upcoming special publications, call 360-779-4464.

Publisher: Terry R. Ward General manager/ advertising: Donna Etchey Managing editor: Richard Walker Special publications editor/ writer: Leslie Kelly Production artists: Kelsey Thomas, Mark Gillespie, John Rodriguez, Vanessa Calverley

Your number one local community news source. KITSAPDAILYNEWS.COM | BAINBRIDGEREVIEW.COM BAINBRIDGE ISLAND REVIEW | 98110 | NORTH KITSAP HERALD | CENTRAL KITSAP REPORTER PORT ORCHARD INDEPENDENT | KINGSTON COMMUNITY NEWS | KITSAP WEEKLY P.O. Box 278, Poulsbo, WA 98370 • 19351 8th Avenue NE, Ste 106, Poulsbo, WA 98370 • Office (360) 779-4464 Copyright 2017 Sound Publishing

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Clowning: It’s fun, but dangerous work By LESLIE KELLY


As the song says, “Mammas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.” But it didn’t say anything about becoming a rodeo clown. And that’s lucky for Keith Isley, because that’s just what he did. Isley, 59, who travels with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, (PRCA) and performs during rodeos, once thought he’d be that rodeo cowboy. “I grew up on a farm and we always had horses,” said Isley, who hails from Goldstone, North Carolina. “My older brother went into the military and got exposed to rodeo. Then, he kinda got me and another brother into it.” At 14, Isley began riding bulls in the junior rodeo

division. “But I soon found out that it was more fun to fight the bull from the ground,” he said. “So then I want to be a bullfighter.” As time went on, however, he found that being a rodeo clown could combine the onthe-ground bullfighting with the comedy and humor that he loved. “In the mid 1990s, I quit fighting bulls to concentrate on the humor,” he said. Although he describes himself as shy, he found that the baggy pants and the makeup gave him just enough of a comfort shield from the spectators. He used to travel with the rodeo from March to October every year, but the past few years he’s cut that to mid-June through mid-October. “I’m slowing down a bit to spend more time with my family,” he said. Currently, he’s on a rodeo circuit from Colorado to Washington state where he will arrive in time for the Kitsap County Fair & Stampede. He travels with his three horses, his dogs, and sometimes his wife. He and his wife use to travel together doing a trick horse riding act.

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“My wife barrel raced and she got me into the trick riding,” he said. “That trick riding got me to where I am today.” For his performances, Isley is up at 7 a.m. taking care of his horses. “They get a bath every single day,” he said. “And then about an hour before I go on, I get in my trailer and start putting on my makeup and my baggy pants.” If necessary, he can get ready in 10 minutes. But he likes to have an hour so he can become the clown persona. He doesn’t have a clown name, but he always wears some combination of red, white and blue and his red suspenders. “A lot of clowns wear wigs,” he said. “But I found that my lack of hair is more funny.” Once he’s in the stadium, he’s busy performing stunts to entertain the crowd including trick roping, high and low impact aerobics, animal tricks and trick riding. “Many people think the clown’s only job is to keep the attention of the bull after the cowboy is thrown,” he said. “And that’s the tradition. But I also entertain during the breaks between events.” His acts include working with animals,

which is never easy, he said. “Animals will teach you to improvise,” he said. “You never really know what they’re going to do.” He also knows that the hardest part of his work is losing an animal. “It’d be nice if they lived forever,” he said. “But they don’t. It’s tough to lose them. They’re like family.” In his work, he also uses a large barrel, which he can hop into to get out of the way of the bull, when needed. “The crowd does like to see the bull hit the barrel with the clown in it,” he said. “I’ve come close to getting knocked out of it. But the announcer will let me know when and if I can stick my head up.” Other than small injuries and a semiserious neck injury, Isley has been flawless in his more than 20 years as a rodeo clown and barrelman. He likes to interact with the crowd and sometimes is able to “get up with the spectators and get them involved in the rodeo.” Isley does his own bookings and makes his own travel plans. He also likes to work a See CLOWN, Page 15

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Continued from page 14 few weeks around his hometown every year. “I try not to forget where I came from,” he said. He and his wife don’t have children, but he has two brothers in North Carolina and when he’s away he misses “that town 300 people and no stoplights.” Isley has won many honors including the PRCA Comedy Act of the Year in 2013, and the PRCA Clown of the Year at least six times. He’s also won awards from Coors-Molson which sponsors the “Man in the Can” barrel performances at many rodeos. Isley is quick to say that his favorite part of the rodeo world is the audience. “The response and the applause from the people, that’s pretty rewarding.”

DID YOU KNOW: Rodeo clowns date to the beginnings of competitive rodeo in the early 1900s, when promoters hired cowboys to entertain the crowd between events or if the competition was delayed. These individuals began wearing oversized, baggy clothing and eventually developed more outlandish gear. When bull riding competition began to use ill-tempered Brahma bulls in the 1920s, the need for a person to distract the bull from fallen riders fell to the rodeo clown. The use of a barrel for protection began during the 1930s when a rodeo clown named Jasbo Fulkerson began to use a wooden barrel with a solid bottom.

As a rodeo clown, Keith Isley gets to play with the bulls. He thought he’d grow up to be a bull rider, but clowning got in the way.

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He can make you sing and dance and you’ll never know how

“I was about 13 when I did it the first time,” he said. “I read some books on it and then I did it on my schoolmates. If you’re in the audience watching Kevin The first time it worked, I was just as surprised. I kept wanting to say ‘Open your Wolfe, magician and hypnotist, chances eyes!’ I was afraid he wasn’t going to come are you’re going to laugh and be amazed. out of it.” Wolfe is a certified hypnotist and he’s But that’s never happened, and as he got better at it, he became more confident. His first love was magic. “I was about 6 years old when my uncle came over and did a magic trick where you cut off your finger,” he said. “He wanted to try it on me, but I was scared.” That having sparked his interest, he got a Presto Magic Kit for Christmas the next year. He did his first show at age 13. “I’ve never had a ‘real job’ since,” he said. He began a list of goals, including performing on big stages, being on television, meeting David Copperfield, and opening for bands like the Jefferson Starship. They’ve all been fulfilled. “David Copperfield picked me to come up on stage,” he said. “I was only about 16 years old. But I guess he liked how I looked because he hired me Kevin Wolfe, hypnotist, will return to the fair this year. to design illusions and perform with him. I went on the road Contributed photo with in. But I got worn out. “I guess that wasn’t a great decision because now he’s bringing his comedy hypnosis back to the worth about $18 million, and I’m only Kitsap County Fair, Aug. 24-27. worth about half that,” Wolfe joked. As in the past, Wolfe plans to bring In his prime, Wolfe performed about someone out of the audience and hypno300 times a year, doing stage shows, fairs, tize them on stage while others watch. corporate events and high school graduThen he’ll get them to do humorous ation shows. He’s scaled back, to spend things like dance and sing by just making more time with his family, and this year, suggestions or by asking them questions. he’ll do around 200 shows. So, how does he picks his “victims?” He’s done the Kitsap Fair many times, “Sometimes people will come up to me before the show and ask,” he said. “I try to the first was about 20 years ago. “I’ve done it on and off throughout get people who raise their hands or who the years,” he said. “I usually do the are really excited. They have to be 100 Puyallup Fair and I do Blackberry Days in percent willing or it won’t work.” Bremerton.” Wolfe, who had a hypnosis practice in Silverdale for a time, learned hypnosis See WOLFE, Page 17 when he was young.




AUGUST 18, 2017


Continued from page 16 He also travels to Eastern Washington and Idaho to perform. He will do two shows a day at the fair, one afternoon show of about an hour in length, and an evening show that runs 90 minutes. Wolfe never tries to get somebody to do something that they don’t want to. He tries to get each participant to use their own imagination. But that doesn’t mean his shows become routine. “Everybody responds differently when under hypnosis,” he said. “They can do something that throws me off guard and then I start laughing.” He’s had people ask his to do things he won’t do, such as put someone under hypnosis so they will say “yes” to a marriage proposal, or to erase memories. “When I had an office, people came to me to quit smoking, or lose weight, or have a painless childbirth,” Wolfe said. “Hypnosis isn’t therapy and I respect counselors and psychiatrists too much. That’s not what I do.” Hypnosis is really “tapping into that portion of the mind” not usually used, he said. “To an extent, people are in hypnosis all


the time, like when they drive down the road and can’t recall what they’ve passed in the last few minute,” he said. “Or when they are watching a movie and they feel as if they’re a character in it. It’s just coming in touch with that place in your mind.”

The 4-H competitions are a big part of the fair. This is the 100th year for 4-H to be a part of the fair. There are divisions and classes for anyone who wants to enter the fair. File photo

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Continued from page 5 Campbell (“Out of my Head”), Cole Swindel and many other famous acts. Both Olson brothers attended Washington State University which is where they truly started to find a deeper love for country music. Luke is now attending Belmont University in Nashville studying songwriting and making more connections in the music industry including interning with Desmond Child (songwriter of “Living On A Prayer”) and writing with quite a few well known Nashville songwriters. Brothers Isaac and Luke Olson started the group out as a duo playing guitar and writing music together beginning in 2011. Things really began to take off for the band in 2013. With the addition of Milo Mullins on the Bass and Seth Bowman on the drums the Band began playing live shows and won the 2013 Battle of the Bands at Capital Lake Fair in Olympia. Luke and Isaac also won a national songwriting contest for their hit song “Sunrise” in the Texaco Country Showdown. The Olson Bros won $5,000, a trip to Nashville to consult with a pub-

lishing company, and got introduced at The Grand Ol’ Opry. The Olson Bros enjoy writing songs that display strong emotion, making people laugh, cry, or smile and just have a good time. Some of the bands all time favorite artists include John Denver, Zac Brown, Sam Hunt, Dierks Bentley, Darius Rucker, Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, Taylor Swift and Florida Georgia Line. On Aug. 26, the Michael Anthony Pratt Band will play, beginning at 8:30 p.m. “To keep you on the dance floor; to see you raise your glass with a holler back; to leave you high-spirited and satisfied; that’s why we do what we do,” the band states on its website. “If you’re looking for the perfect blend of great country music — rockin’ and real, classic and contemporary, with original tunes that will have you singing the chorus by the second round and spot-on covers -— you’ve arrived.” With noted original work, strong vocals, tight harmonies and a fun and energetic light-heartedness, the Michael Anthony Pratt Band is one the fastest rising country bands in the Northwest and will leave you thoroughly entertained.

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Admission to all concerts is free with paid entry to the fair on that day. All concerts are on the stage at the Cowboy Corral on the fairgrounds.

The Olson Bros will play at the Kitsap County Fair on Friday evening. Contributed photo

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and, again, if I was struggling I could fix what I didn’t do right and turn it in again. I am a Continued from page 6 person who believes in second parades, six rodeos and several chances.” community events, to name a Also representing Kitsap few, and have many more to County Fair is Kyla Seevers, come.” who was crowned Miss Katie When she’s not competing, Kitsap. she’s busy with her animals and Kyla Seevers, Miss Katie other hobbies. Kitsap, is “Rodeo the 7-yeartakes up most daughter “Rodeo takes up most old of my time,” of Jeremy my time, but when I she said. “but and Kristin when I have a She have a free weekend I Seevers. free weekend completed like to take my quads first grade I like to take my quads to at Vinland to Tahuya.” Tahuya. I also Elementary have four horsSchool in June. es, two cats, — Dakota Damschen, Kyla is a Kitsap four dogs, and native, with Miss Kitsap Fair 2017 two goats.” much of her In school, family growing she likes science. up in the area as well. “My favorite class at Klahowya She has always dreamed of was science,” she said, “because being a rodeo princess, and I was given the chance to coraspires to someday be Miss rect my errors and try again for Rodeo America. Each year, a better score. I had the opporshe has looked to other rodeo tunity to master difficult material queens with admiration and


respect. Kyla said she is excited to represent the Kitsap County Fair & Stampede with grace, determination, and bit of fun thrown in. Kyla has always had a love for animals, especially horses. She has been on horses since she was little and is now a member and competitor in the Northwest Junior Rodeo Association. She is looking forward to sharing her love for rodeos and horse with others. Miss Katie Kitsap is a longstanding tradition at the county fair to honor a young girl who is interested in rodeo.

Kyla Seevers is Miss Katie Kitsap for the 2017 Kitsap Fair. Contributed photo

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Continued from page 7 keep the driver from getting hurt. Pieze said in most cases, Derby is a hobby where “you break even.” “There are cash awards for those who win each race,” he said. “But most of the time, that money goes right back into fixing the car. Generally, you just break even.” Shows that are sponsored by national race car promoters have bigger cash awards, he said, but often times they are more expensive to enter. Pieze said club-sponsored shows are more of a family event. The Derby racers race in heats and each driver can do as many races as each wants to. “But, they may have to fall out of a race and go to the pits to switch out a flat tire,” he said. “Then, when they’re ready, they’ll jump back in.” In the finale race, the winner is the “last man standing,” he said. Learning to race gave Steele more confidence as a driver. “That’s really an important thing about this,” she said. “That’s why I want my kids to race. My kids will know what it’s like to have a blown tire and how to control the car when that happens. They’ll know what it’s like to have speed under your foot.”

Cars are often sponsored by local businesses. Numbers relate to which driver is inside. Likewise, Pieze’s 18-year-old daughter drives, and his 16-year-old son will. All drivers must be at least 18 years old. Another reason they Derby is to reduce stress. “That may sound funny,” Pieze said. “But when everything is going right, it can be a

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Contributed photo

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AUGUST 18, 2017


Fair is an important part of Kramer’s life



For more than 20 years, Ken Kramer has been a part of the Kitsap County Fair. His work has included three years as the superintendent of the open class photography exhibits, nine years on the Kitsap County Fair Board, and another nine years as superintendent of the 4-H photography exhibits. Some who know him just call him “Mr. Photography.” Others call him the best kind of volunteer the fair could have. “I just enjoy watching the kids grow and develop their skills,” he said, of his work with 4-H. “I see these kids when they are 8 or 9 years old all the way thorough high school. And some of them come back as adults and help us out.” Kramer hasn’t kept track of the hours he’s given to the fair and 4-H. But it’s been steady. “I haven’t got a clue,” he said. “But it’s been a lot.” Not only does he work from sun up to sun down during the fair and the two weeks prior to the fair, but he’s there for the 4-H photography clubs through the year. He also is a member of the Pacific Northwest Photographers Society, and even month he meets with that group — many of whom are youth — taking them on field trips to help them learn on-the-job photography skills. Kramer’s been interested in photography for as long as he can remember. He worked for WKBW TV in Buffalo, New York, where he grew up. Then he did a four-year stunt as a photographer in the Navy. Following that, he was a freelance photographer for the Sacramento Bee and for the Associated Press. During that time he met and photographer presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. After he retired, he moved to the Pacific Northwest for a civil

Ken Kramer has been working with the 4-H program in Kitsap County for many years. He made posters to honor the 100th anniversary of Kitsap 4-H.

Leslie Kelly photo

service job and settled in Silverdale. When he retired again, he needed something to do and began lending his photography skills to the fair. “They brought me in as a judge, and it just grew from there,” he said. He also judges photography at the Puyallup Fair. For the Kitsap fair, he and two assistant superintendents and five volunteers, begin two weeks out taking in the entries. After they are judged, they hang the photos for display at the fair, and attach the appropriate ribbons to those that have placed in the competition. “Photography has really grown in the years that I’ve been here,” he said. “When I began, we had about 150 photos entered. In

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2009, we had about 260. Last year we had 386. We’ve had to keep adding wall panels to display them on.” The photos, and all still life, including 4-H and Open Class, are shown in Presidents Hall. He and his crew are at the fair every day to talk to those who come by to see the photos. “We like to be there to answer questions and to encourage kids to join and parents and adults to volunteer,” he said. “It takes about 350 volunteers and 35,000 hours of volunteered time to carry out the 4-H program.” Kramer said this is the 100th year for 4-H in Kitsap County. “It was small in the beginning, teaching

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mostly family living and livestock — things like cooking, sewing and farming,” he said. “But now we have more than 50 clubs in the county and we teach everything — even robotics and engineering.” In fact, 4-H has been the place for students to learn things like sewing and cooking because home economic isn’t taught in the school anymore. There are also classes in etiquette that include how to sit at a formal dinner and what fork to use. And because this is the 100th year for 4-H in Kitsap County, Kramer is overseeing the 100th Birthday Challenge. The contest is open to all 4-H groups and involves making a display with photos, posters and decorations on the topic of the birthday and what their individual club does. The displays will be up during the fair and will be judges with cash awards. “It’s just a little challenge for everybody,” he said. “We want them to show all the great aspects of 4-H to help promote 4-H and get more kids and parents involved.” He’s also making displays using photographs of 4-H throughout the years, to help celebrate the 100th year. And he’s been active in keeping the fair scrapbooks every year. As for his time when he’s not volunteering for 4-H, Kramer said there isn’t any. “I don’t have time for anything else,” he said, adding that his wife also helps with the 4-H photography, taking in entries at the fair and doing other projects. They have four grown children, one in Oregon and three in California. When fair time rolls around, Kramer gets excited for friends and food. “It’s like a reunion,” he said. “I see people that I only see once a year — at the fair. We’re all old friends.” And, when he can slip away, he grabs a scone or two and a burger almost every day from Crazy Eric’s.

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AUGUST 18, 2017

Mini horses are a highlight again this year

“Everybody likes to see what the minis are dressed like,” he said. “It’s something that is special.” When not competing the minis are in the E Barn, which also has the Gascoyne’s touch. In the past few years, along with the help of Chuck and Cynthia Edwards, they’ve remodeled the barn to look like and old-time western town. “We were driving through Soap Lake a few years ago,” Pat said. “I saw this little Old Frontier Town there and I said ‘That’s what we should do inside the minis barn.’”



They are a favorite of many children who visit the fair. And adults, too. And without Ron and Pat Gascoyne, the miniature horses wouldn’t be a part of the Kitsap County Fair. For the past 15 years, the Seabeck couple has been the powerhouse behind the mini-horse exhibit at the fair. And it all started due to their grandchildren. “Our grandchildren got us into this,” Ron said. “But I wasn’t opposed to it,” said his wife Pat. “I loved the miniature horse and I thought it’d be kind of neat to have them.” The Gascoynes have the Seven Wells Ranch in Seabeck where throughout the year, they keep mini horses and allow any child who wants to learn about them to come out at no cost. And when it comes fair time, they pack up most or all of their eight minis and head to the E Barn on the Kitsap County Fairgrounds. Their most well-known horse is Spanky, who’s been with them since they started keeping mini horses. “The kids all know him,” said Ron. “They remember him from year to year. And we take him out during the year to visit schools and nursing homes.” Minis became a part of their lives when they had a grandchild competing in mini horse in the Silver Spurs horse club. Then the couple decided to bring the minis to the fair as part of a petting zoo. From there, the minis have grown to be its own competition at the fair, separate from 4H, but run similarly with 198 classes or divisions of competition during the five day fair.

A young girl shows a miniature horse at last year’s fair. “Minis can do everything the regular horses do, except people don’t ride them,” Pat said. “They jump, and they race obstacle course, and there’s a division where they pull carts.” The classes also are broken out into age groups. “We have them for the novice, the older kids and the adults,” Ron said. “And this year we have a class for adult 49 and older. Some of the adults said they didn’t want to compete with the 18 year olds anymore.” The Gascoynes are expecting about 60 mini horses to compete this year. They will be housed in E-Barn and will compete in the area next door. On Friday of fair

Minis can do everything the regular horses do, except people don’t ride them.” — Pat Gascoyne

Mike Bay photo

week, the minis will compete in the new Large Equine Arena at the north end of the fairgrounds. Ron was a major part of getting that covered arena funded and built. This is the first year it will be used during the fair. “These guys are pretty small,” Ron said on the minis. “They can get lost in that big arena. But we will have the cart pull there because there’s more room.” One of the most popular competitions for the minis is the costume division, where kids and adults dress their minis up and sometimes, themselves, too. There have been yellow-feathered birds, clowns, military cammo, and sport teams costumes.

Facade along the interior walls include the lumber store, the tack and feed store, Mini-Gulch Bank and post office, anode course, Spanky’s Saloon. Local companies have provided some of the items for the decor, including Home Depot, Lowe’s and Farmland. According the national mini horse organization, miniature horses are found in many nations, particularly in those of Europe and the Americas. The designation of miniature horse is determined by the height of the animal, which, dependSee MINIS, Page 23

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Continued from page 22 ing on the particular breed registry involved, is usually less than 34–38 inches as measured at the last hairs of the mane, which are found at the withers. While miniature horses are the size of a very small pony, many retain horse characteristics and are considered “horses” by their respective registries. They have various colors and coat patterns. Miniature horses are friendly and interact well with people. For this reason they are often kept as family pets, though they still retain natural horse behavior, including a natural fight or flight instinct, and must be treated like an equine, even if they primarily serve as a companion animal. They are also trained as service animals, akin to assistance dogs for people with disabilities. Miniature horses are also trained for driving, equine agility, and other competitive horse show type events. People are drawn to the minis, Pat said, because of their size. “They’re not intimidating like big horses are,” she said. “You can have fun with them. In our case, our grandkids even bring Spanky in the house.” The cost of the average mini horse in this area runs about $1,000, but can be anywhere from free to $2,500. A pure bred can be as much as $250,000. In the Gascoyne’s case, some of their minis were given to them. “People know that we have them and there’ll be people who can’t keep their mini and ask us to take them,” Ron

An old frontier town inside the barn where the miniature horses are shown. Leslie Kelly photo

said. “People call us and say ‘Can you re-home our mini?’ “If we can’t keep them, we find homes for them. So far this year we’ve re-homes four minis. They’re easy to keep. Just a little hay and a little feed.” There is a local group, Kitsap Miniature Horse Club,

where you can learn more about minis. Find out more by emailing the Seven Wells Ranch at sevenwells7@hotmail. com.



AUGUST 18, 2017

Profile for Sound Publishing

Kitsap County Fair - 2017 Kitsap County Fair and Stampede  


Kitsap County Fair - 2017 Kitsap County Fair and Stampede