Kittitas County Fair and Rodeo draws big crowd - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Kittitas County Fair and Rodeo draws big crowd

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Ellensburg, WASH.--Despite a late start, dealing with one of the worst wildfires Washington State has seen in years and handling false reports of fair cancellation that were publicly broadcasted, the Kittitas County Fair and Rodeo is doing better than ever.

In fact, board members said attendance is up around 20 percent compared to last year.

"Turnout is really great today, and the crowds have not been hurt by the big fire we had in our valley," said Carole Engstram. "We are so happy about that."

"Taylor fire was a huge tragedy and a significant event for our county," said board member Brian Twardoski. "It also brought a lot of exposure and that helped people become aware of what's going on in Ellensburg. I think there's more folks that just want to be a part of what we do on Labor Day weekend."

Ian Ridpath said, "I really just enjoy the atmosphere. I enjoy the elephant ears that you can get here. I just enjoy coming with my friends."

Misinformation started circulating after someone spread rumors that the fair was canceled this year due to the Taylor Bridge Fire. Some Seattle media outlets ran the false reports, but later fixed the error. Board members said over 50 percent of ticket sales come from people living in Western Washington and therefore, were worried it could affect attendance.

"It caused a lot of alarm and confusion, and we had many hard days earlier this week trying to get the truth out--the fact that we're having a great rodeo and the weather's great," said Twardoski.

Prep work for the fair also got off to late start this year since the fairgrounds were housing fire evacuee animals. Board members said with the help of several agencies and many volunteers, they were able to find temporary housing offsite.

They also said a lot of the animals were even able to go back to their own homes.