The West Valley Fair: A Slice of Americana

As part of a larger project, I have been traveling around the state photographing different county fairs. The West Valley Community fair has been happening just about every summer since 1951, and is one of the best small town fairs in the state of Washington. The fair took place in the West Valley end of Yakima towards the end of July.
This really feels like a community fair in the sense that everyone knows the names and the family business of just about everyone in attendance. It’s the kind of place where when people met me and introduced themselves, I was given their first and last name – as if their family name meant anything to me as an outsider.

This part of this documentary project never gets old… I meet someone new at a fair, I tell them about what I’m doing there with my camera and they get excited that someone wants to document something that is part of their life. The people of the West Valley fair were no exception.

The West Valley fair as I experienced it was primarily a livestock show of 4-H and FFA. These kids show many different animals throughout the fair.

Caiden Beaman, 16, won champion in the senior showman competition with his steer.

The next day, the final day of the fair took place on Saturday. The day started with a parade that started at a church about a mile down the road and ended at the fairgrounds.

Immediately after the parade there was a bubble gum blowing contest, a water balloon toss and a watermelon eating contest.

Next began the final part of the fair, the actual auction of the animals.

Pictured below is Kaidence Brown and family. She has been showing with the West Valley FFA for about 5 years. Proceeds from the auction will go to her college fund – but only after she joins the national guard.

I think I am searching for something in my travels going to different fairs and livestock shows. It’s hard to pin down but I have these memories of being a little kid sitting at the Grange booth at some small county fair in the northern part of the state, sitting alongside my grandparents. I have always been a city kid and these types of events are not something that I have grown up around. My grandparents are no longer alive, and I feel this great desire to chase, through photography, these feelings of being nostalgic for Americana.

-Many sincere thanks to the kindness of the many people I met during my two days at this fair. Thank you to the Falon family for your generosity of spirit throughout the weekend.


  • Ryder Collins

    I am a photographer living in Seattle Washington that is in love with photographing those fleeting surprise moments. I have always been a people watcher, and when I picked up a camera for the first time my natural inclination was to go out on the street and photograph people. I've always been attracted to photographing the emotions of people and the oftentimes absurd nature of the human experience. At this point I am becoming most interested in visual storytelling through documentary style photography. My current work involves documenting the people of Seattle - how they live, find excitement and resiliency in this city that feels equal parts anxiety and hope.

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2 thoughts on “The West Valley Fair: A Slice of Americana”

  1. Thank you Ryder. It was a great pleasure to meet you and talk to you and get your story on why your doing what your doing.

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