STATUS UPDATE – The Kittitas County Fair and Rodeo is on schedule

UPDATE 08/28/18 –  The Kittitas County Fair and Rodeo is on schedule

Kittitas County, WA – 08/27/2018 – In today’s press release, a representative of Kittitas County said, “On behalf of the Kittitas County Sheriff, Fair Board, Rodeo Board and the Event Center, we would like to inform the Public that the Annual Kittitas County Fair and Rodeo is on schedule.

“Sometimes it’s hard to make sense of all the information we see and hear, especially with today’s technology. Even the clearest messages can get lost in the shadow of the most recent tweet or post.

“The work being done by the county to address potential air quality impacts on events in the community is just part of the ongoing process to insure we have plans in place to address all hazard types, so we are not caught off guard in the event of an emergency. The publication of this planning process was not intended to imply, in any way, that the Fair or Rodeo is being canceled due to smoke. In fact, if you noticed, it is a bright clear day and the forecast through Labor Day is the same, warm and clear. So take comfort in knowing the County Officials are working with the Fair and Rodeo Boards to insure that, if we are faced with disasters or emergencies, we have a plan to facilitate our events and protect public safety.

“We hope to see you and your family at the Kittitas County Fair and Rodeo.”

Editor’s note: the previous posting was from an earlier official press release from Kittitas County. This latest update clarifies the readiness procedures in place, and brings the current status which has a green light for the events as of current conditions.

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Public Health Assessing Air Quality for Kittitas County Fair and Ellensburg Rodeo

Kittitas County, WA – 08/27/2018 – The Kittitas County Public Health Department (KCPHD) is working closely with the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office, the Kittitas County Board of County Commissioners, the Kittitas County Event Center, the Kittitas County Fair Board, and the Ellensburg Rodeo Board to determine when poor air quality might result in the closure of outdoor events this Labor Day Weekend. It has been determined that if air quality conditions reach “hazardous,” according to the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) that the events will be closed to the public. “People work incredibly hard to put these events together, but we cannot compromise the health of the folks who are required to work these events. No one should have to make the choice between employment and their health,” states Commissioner Cory Wright.

Hazardous air quality conditions will be determined when the Ecology air monitor located in Ellensburg shows a “hazardous” reading.  ”More healthy people are likely to have breathing problems during hazardous air conditions,” according to Ecology.

“We are certainly hoping that air quality does not go into the hazardous range,” states Kittitas County Health Officer Dr. Mark Larson.  “The decision about the safety of this event is truly difficult.  The choice is ultimately made specifically for the health of residents and visitors in Kittitas County.  There is no economic value that is comparable to the health and life safety of people.”

The Health Officer will make a determination each morning by 6:00 AM

during the Labor Day weekend events (starting Thursday, August 30th through Monday, September 3rd) to determine the safety of being open to the public.  If the Ecology monitor shows a “hazardous” level reading, the events will be closed to the public.  If the air quality monitor shows any other air quality category besides “hazardous,” the events will be open to the public.  KCPHD will monitor the air conditions on an hourly basis in order to provide updated information.

If the events are closed to the public, people should follow these recommendations:

  • Everyone should stay indoors and do only light activities inside
  • Keep windows closed if it is not too hot
  • Run air conditioners on re-circulate and close outside air intakes
  • Use indoor air cleaners with HEPA filters, if available
  • If you must be outdoors, wear a properly-fitted N95 respirator mask

For visitors from out of town, the recommendations would mean returning to their hotel or finding an indoor public place with healthier air.

“We always recommend that people limit exposure to substandard air quality conditions, and we encourage people to make their own personal choices about poor air quality and the health risks. However, there is no way to alleviate hazardous air conditions and there is no way to make hazardous air quality O.K. for anyone,” explains Dr. Larson.

For more information, please contact the Kittitas County Public Health Department at 509-962-7515.