Stuffed animals and toys sit piled in plastic bags

Stuffed animals and toys sit piled in plastic bags between carnival games during setup for the Central Washington State Fair Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021 at State Fair Park in Yakima, Wash.

Put yourself in Kathy Kramer’s shoes for a minute.

In the fall of 2019 you get hired for a great job — president and CEO of the Central Washington Fair Association — and in early 2020 you get to Yakima and they show you where your desk is.

Then, the equivalent of the apocalypse for grand-scale entertainment hits: a global pandemic that shuts down nearly everything. The SunDome is reduced to being a big, dark, drafty barn.

Now, though — now that you’ve held the job for roughly two years — you finally get a chance to oversee your new employer’s signature event: the Central Washington State Fair.

Must be surreal.

It might feel a little surreal for the rest of us, too. With the fair open for the first time in two years, many of us will climb out of our cocoons and take in some sights and sounds that were only echoing in our memories during the darkest days of COVID lockdowns.

Seeing all those carnival rides spinning and snaking around the midway again, strolling the grounds of State Fair Park and smelling fair food, admiring the artwork and taking in all the livestock and curio displays will feel pretty good. It’ll almost be like getting back to normal.

We’re for that. After these grim recent months, we could all use some sunny playdays.

At the same time, the fair is reopening as local COVID deaths have topped 500 and hospitals are at or beyond capacity as they try to treat the sick without disrupting critical care for non-COVID patients. Meantime, the misinformed continue to defy all common sense, rejecting free vaccines and tossing aside masks.

Some fear the fair could easily become a super-spreader event — and it could.

On the other hand, if everybody follows some basic health precautions and common courtesy, maybe we could help Kathy Kramer get a chance to see the Yakima Valley she signed on for. A place that throws a great end-of-summer party with racing pigs, singing celebrities and booths that sell everything from Seahawks gear to cheap pirate flags.

So our advice is: Go to the fair. Soak up some sunshine. Live your life.

Climb aboard a Sundola chair and get a panoramic view of the grounds — as luck would have it, the seats are already spaced for safe social distancing.

But please, get the shots and wear your mask. Let’s make this year’s fair a super event, not a super-spreader event.