For decades, this devoted fair fan camped out to get the best grandstand show tickets

By Sarah Sakurazawa

June 30, 2023

Taylor Swift fans who went to any lengths to get seats to the 2023 Eras tour could take inspiration from Everson, Washington, dairy wife Pauline VanWeerdhuizen.

For about two decades, this mother of four would camp out at the Northwest Washington Fair office the night before grandstand show tickets went on sale to make sure she got up-front seats. She says she started when the fair began charging for grandstand shows and stopped once the fair switched to online ticketing in 2004. 

“If I’m going and seeing a show, I’m going to get a real good seat or I’m not going to go,” she says. “That’s the best way to do it.”

Around 9 p.m. the night before, she’d take a lawn chair and a sleeping bag to the fair office. 

It was a solo operation. “Nobody wanted to go with me,” she sighs. Her husband, now-retired dairy farmer Bob VanWeerdhuizen, “said he’s not that crazy.”

But for Pauline it was simple: “I love the fair.”

“Usually it was the first Monday in June, the last day of May they opened up ticket sales,” she recalls. 

One year, their daughter Debbie VanderVeen, a retired dairy farmer, remembers, “Dad got up and he’d forgotten it was ticket time. The car was gone …”

“Here he is at 2 in the morning looking around the house for me,” laughs Pauline VanWeerdhuizen. “He was glad when I got home at 9:30!”

“There’s others there, but I try to be first. To me, that’s part of the fair.”

Ever the enterprising Dutch farmer, VanWeerdhuizen adds, “I would bring coffee and doughnuts and sell them in line — I’d get my seats paid for!”

It paid off in other ways: The VanWeerdhuizens had front-row seats at country music megastar Garth Brooks’ surprise appearance with Trisha Yearwood at the 1997 fair. 

Superstars or not, for Pauline VanWeerdhuizen, “The fair is a gathering place for people, it’s just really special.”

The recipe below is from “100 Years at the Northwest Washington Fair.” This history of the fair’s first century features lots of other ribbon-winning recipes, from Phoebe Judson’s Westward-Ho rolls to Myrtle Moe’s bread and butter pickles.

Sour Cream Apple Muffins

Pauline VanWeerdhuizen of Everson, Washington

Throughout the 1970s, Pauline VanWeerdhuizen often sent these muffins out into the fields at her family’s dairy farm for workers to enjoy. She entered them at the fair in the 1990s and won a blue ribbon.  During fair week, they were the breakfast staple on the ride to the fairgrounds for her children’s 5-in-the-morning 4-H barn duties.

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2  teaspoon baking soda

2 large eggs, beaten

1 cup sour cream

1/4 cup butter

1 large apple, chopped, unpeeled


1/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons flour 

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Grease muffin tin or line with cupcake papers. 

In large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.  

In small bowl, beat together eggs, sour cream and butter. 

Add all at once to dry ingredients with apples. Stir until moist. 

Fill greased muffin tins two thirds full. 

Mix together topping ingredients. Sprinkle over muffin mixture.  

Bake for 20 minutes.