Clallam fair board member chosen for state panel

Commissioners visit statewide events, recommend funding

Laurie Davies has stepped down from her post as a Clallam County Fair Commissioner to become a Washington State Fair Commissioner. (Courtesy photo)

Laurie Davies has stepped down from her post as a Clallam County Fair Commissioner to become a Washington State Fair Commissioner. (Courtesy photo)

PORT ANGELES — Laurie Davies didn’t know much about what Washington State Fair commissioners did beyond evaluating county fairs and presenting a distinctive black and white ribbon to an individual, exhibit, building or organization that demonstrated excellence and outstanding achievement.

“I’d always been curious how to become one, but never pursued it,” said Davies, who joined the Clallam County Fair Advisory Board in 2004.

After the Clallam County Fair received glowing marks last year from the state fair commissioner, Davies decided to apply for a vacancy that had opened on the Washington State Fairs Commission. When she read the description of the responsibilities, she was unsure if she was qualified.

“I looked at it and I thought, ‘Well, I don’t see me fitting into this because they need a background in ag, which I don’t have,’” Davies said. “So I sent back an email saying I’m curious, but I just don’t see where I could fit in.”

That’s not what Washington State Fairs Commission program administrator Michelle Chavez and administrative regulations manager Hannah Mosely-Hernandez thought when they read Davies’ application.

They saw 22 years of experience as a 4-H volunteer, club leader and president of the Clallam County 4-H Council. Not to mention 19 years on the Clallam County Fair Advisory Board, where Davies is superintendent of the horse barns, and her 15 years heading the Clallam County Fair Royalty committee.

“We’re really looking for someone who has experience with fairs, maybe showing animals, maybe showing projects,” Mosley-Hernandez said. “She had that.”

In addition, they said they believed she also would be a great ambassador for state fairs — an important part of a commissioner’s responsibilities.

“We met her at the Washington State Fairs Association convention in October and we kind of kept an eye on her,” Mosley-Hernandez said. “She was just super friendly, she interacted with everyone and we thought, ‘Wow, she would be a great addition to the commission.’”

After many conversations and emails, Davies received a letter in November congratulating her on being selected for a three-year term.

On March 2, Davies will meet the seven other state fair commissioners for the first time when they gather in Olympia for orientation, training and deciding how to divide among themselves the 69 county, youth and community fairs that are held across the state from April to September.

The state Department of Agriculture administers the Fairs Commission, which is comprised of three representatives from east of the Cascades, three from west of the Cascades, one at-large member and an ex-officio director.

Davies replaced longtime commissioner Ron Crawford in the western division.

“I’ll be the new kid on the block,” she said. “We’ll see how it goes.”

Davies and the other commissioners will evaluate each fair in a wide range of categories: educational impact, agriculture displays, grounds and landscaping, condition of buildings, parking, restrooms, eating facilities and livestock exhibits.

They will refer to these evaluations in the fall when making recommendations on how state funds should be awarded. In 2023, that will amount to about $2.75 million to help pay for fairs’ operating expenses and premium payments.

“It’s a really important role that they play,” Chavez said. “They help us decide how capital allotments are going to be spent.”

Because the commissioners participate in financial decision-making, they can’t serve on county fair boards. Stepping down from the Clallam County Fair Advisory Board wasn’t easy, Davies said, but she can still be involved in 4-H, which is how she became involved in fairs in the first place.

Davies was introduced to 4-H when her daughter, Sarah, became interested in horses in the third grade and someone recommended they join Marie Dickinson’s Sidekicks 4-H club.

Davies was impressed with the club and with the 4-H mission of youth leadership development, focus on contributing to the community and hands-on learning.

“It was all the different people that were so willing to help within the horse community,” Davies said. “It was a good experience.”

Commissioners are not paid, although they do receive a $50-a-day stipend and travel expenses.

Davies retired as the office manager of her husband’s Sequim dental practice, so she has the time — barely — to dedicate almost half the year to driving around the state evaluating fairs — except Clallam County’s, which is set for Aug. 17-20.

She will be there in August to help with royalty, supervise the horse barns and be a part of something for which she has a love and passion.

“This year in 2023 will be our 102nd fair,” Davies said. “We’re still so important to our county and our state.”

In addition to the vacancy created by Davies’ resignation as the horse group representative, the Clallam County Fair Advisory Board also has a vacancy for the garden club representative.

Applications for the Fair Advisory Board (and all other voluntary county boards, committees and commissions) can be found at tinyurl.com/yhnshnmm.

The fair office chooses a candidate from among the applicants whom it take to the Board of County Commissioners for official appointment.

________

Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached at paula.hunt@soundpublishing.com.

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