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Fair to offer separate tickets for concert series in new location; Fourth of July decision coming in May

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Central Washington State Fair

FILE — An aerial view of the Central Washington State Fair as seen from a drone operated by Steven Mack on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016.

The Central Washington State Fair’s annual concert series is no longer included with every fair admission.

Though the fair will offer “a limited amount of first-come concert seats, available for guests who have a hard ‘gate admission’ ticket only, for each concert,” most of the seating will be reserved for those who buy tickets specifically for the concerts, fair President and CEO Kathy Kramer said.

That means the discount season passes, which were sold throughout March, don’t include concert admission. The concert tickets, sold separately, will include fair admission.

The fair’s concert series, which has featured such luminaries as Willie Nelson and Smokey Robinson over the years, has long offered a reserve seating option with a premium ticket. But general admission was open to anyone at the fair. That’s not a universal practice, though, Kramer said.

“It is very common practice for fairs across the country who have a separate concert experience within their footprint to require a separate ticket for their concerts,” she said.

The thinking behind this move, which coincides with a change in concert location, is that doing it this way will make the concerts more of a draw.

“The change in location of the concert series and increased capacity will allow for more seating and the opportunity to bring bigger marque acts to the fair and our community,” Kramer said. “Moving forward, your concert ticket will include your fair admission. This will eliminate the need to purchase two separate tickets.”

Details of the venue change are still to come. The concerts have been held on the Corona Stage at the south end of the fairgrounds near the corner of Fair Avenue and Nob Hill Boulevard.

“We want to announce the new location along with some of the great acts we have booked,” Kramer said. “We have most of the acts booked on a tentative status, waiting to see if we will actually be able to hold live outdoor concerts this year and what restrictions might be in place.”

Last year’s fair, of course, was canceled — as were virtually all local events during the COVID-19 pandemic. Kramer and her team are hopeful about this year.

“We are cautiously optimistic that we will be able to deliver some iteration of the annual fair, just not sure yet what that will look like,” she said. “We are anxiously awaiting updates on reopening phases as well as some more definitive requirements for large outdoor events and concerts. The good news is the fair is in the fall and a lot can happen between now and then.”

Yakima’s annual Fourth of July celebration at the fairgrounds is coming up a little sooner. But organizers haven’t ruled that out yet, either, she said.

“We would love to deliver a Fourth of July event to the community,” Kramer said. “Like everything we do these days: Hurry up and wait and work around COVID restrictions or lack of. Until we get clearer direction on capacities and restrictions for large outdoor events we will not be able to commit to this event and will be making that decision early May.”

Reach Pat Muir at pmuir@yakimaherald.com.

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