Fair attendance picks up after slow opening night - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Fair attendance picks up after slow opening night

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Yakima, WASH.--One of the largest fairs in the state got off to a rocky start. Smoke from hundreds of wildfires put the air quality in Central Washington at hazardous levels, and people were advised to stay indoors.

Dylan Cummings works at one of the booths for the Central Washington State Fair. Cummings said, "It's {air quality} affecting me. My breathing is getting a lot worse with all the dust and everything in the air."

"We came Friday, and I got real sick and had to go home, but I've been here a while today and it's a lot better," said Linda Rogers, a regularly fair goer.

Rob Phillips, a spokesperson for the Central Washington State Fair, said, "We were maybe a little bit light on Friday night, and I think that the smoke in the air and the air quality may have hurt us a little bit."

For the first time in over 50 years, the Sunfair Parade was canceled in Yakima last Saturday. Fair representatives said this may have added to the low turnout on opening night.

"I was disappointed, yes," said Osmar Albarez, a senior high school student at Sunnyside. "I was looking forward to the parade, but I think it could have gone on."

But despite the slow start, it seems like fair attendance is picking up. People were lining up around noon Monday, waiting to purchase their tickets and be the first people on the rides.

"It looked like a real good crowd the last two days," said Phillips. "Our midway amusement operator reported that they are now running ahead of last year's numbers, which were a record for them last year."

Albarez said, "I'm used to this kind of weather. It's been like this for two weeks or even more, so we're just here to have fun."

Fair representatives said they understand that people were upset with the parade cancellation. Therefore, they're having a smaller version of the parade Saturday night. It will start at 5 p.m. and take place on the fairgrounds.

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