Adverse weather and air quality can discourage people from going to the Western Idaho Fair, but it appears that a two-hour window of free admission on opening day contributed to a strong start this year.
A red alert — signifying unhealthy air, encouraging children to stay indoors — was issued on Friday, but fair attendance was up more than 50 percent compared to opening day in 2014, fair attendance numbers show.
Friday saw 24,276 people pass through the gates, up from 15,708 last year. Total attendance for the first five days of the fair this year is 108,903, up from 100,664 last year.
“We don’t believe the smoke has impacted turnout,” fair spokeswoman Becki Woodbury said Wednesday.
The good news: Air quality in the Treasure Valley is improving, if not actually considered “good.” A yellow air quality alert was issued for Thursday, an upgrade from Wednesday’s orange alert. Yellow is considered moderately unhealthy and kids and others with respiratory problems should limit vigorous activities outdoors.
The fair opens at noon at Expo Idaho, 5610 N. Glenwood St. in Garden City.
• 1 p.m. Make and Take Crafts, South Expo-Ceramics Department.
• 1 p.m. Hypnotist Michael Mezmer, Project Filter Stage (also at 4:30 and 8 p.m.).
• 2 p.m. Contest: Not Your Mama’s Meatballs, Western Town/Demonstration.
• 2 p.m. Draft Horses — Halter Classes, The Onion Ring.
• 6 p.m. Learn to Knit/Crochet, Home Arts Department/South Expo.
• 6 p.m. Flower Design Demo, Floral Department.
7:30 p.m. Thursday: Country artist Gary Allan will perform songs from throughout his career, including single “Hangover Tonight” from his “Tenth Studio Album.” Concert is included in gate admission.
Admission at gate: 12 and older, $9; children 6 to 11, $5; children 5 and younger, free. Seniors (62 and older), $6.
Fair hours: Noon to 11 p.m. every day, except the final day, Sunday, Aug. 30, which is noon to 9 p.m.
Statesman coupon book: One or two coupons pay for the price of the whole book. Available for $5 at Statesman booths at the fair (Center Expo and near Gate A).
Half-Price Sunday: Get half off fair admission with an Idaho Statesman coupon that can be found in the newspaper every day through Saturday. Also available at the Statesman booths at the fair.
Armed Forces Day: Servicemen and women with military ID card, VA medical card or DD-214 form get in free on Sunday, Aug. 30.