Since its inception back in 1885, the Kittitas County Fair has been one of the most beloved local events in Ellensburg, Washington. Held over the course of several days in what is now a historic fairground setting, this event is the perfect detour for RV campers journeying through Washington in the fall. The Ellensburg Rodeo is known to take place during the same weekend, making the weekend a fun time for both fair and rodeo fans.
If you’re visiting beautiful wilderness destinations like Olmstead Place Historical State Park or Helen McCabe State Park, or if you’re headed 100 miles west to Seattle, the Kittitas County Fair is a can’t-miss hub of local charm.
At this long-running fair, you can journey through a replica turn-of-the-century village, watch rodeo events like bull riding, catch live music, comedy, and magic, or head to the 4-H center for agricultural showings where you’ll see goats, cows, horses, llamas, alpacas, and other barn animals.
There are also tasty fair treats and carnival rides, although you might not want them in that order. Whether you’re a county fair aficionado who knows your way around a bale bucking contest, or you’re just an RV camper who is craving some funnel cake on your way to Mt. Rainier, swing through Ellensburg just in time to catch the Kittitas County Fair.
Tickets for the Kittitas County Fair can be purchased on-site at the event. In past years, general admission for adults 13 years and older has been priced at around $10. Children, military members, and seniors may receive discounted or free admission. There is also special pricing for season passes and exhibitors. Plan on an extra cost of $25 to $35 if you’re interested in buying an unlimited rides pass for carnival rides.
Driving to the Kittitas County Fair in an RV is accessible from most directions. From Seattle, it’s about a two-hour drive. Expect some delays and exercise patience if traveling to the fair from an urban area, but look forward to less traffic once you reach the Ellensburg area. If driving in from the west, you may encounter some mountainous passes, but as long as the weather is dry, which is not always guaranteed in Washington, traveling to this event in an RV should be relatively easy.
For standard-sized vehicles, general admission parking is located in the North Parking Lot at the event. A separate fee of about $10 is typically charged. Fair organizers offer a small number of RV spaces for day parking, overnight camping, and weekly stays. Both dry camping and spaces with hookups are available. If you’re interested in this option, contact the fair office by phone or email to arrange for a spot. Keep in mind that RV spaces with hookups are especially limited, so make reservations as soon as you can.
Though not as readily available and diverse in options as you might find in larger Washington cities, public transportation is a great option for getting around Ellensburg. Routes and schedules may vary during weekends and holidays and might not bring you directly to the fairgrounds, so plan in advance if you’d like to use public transportation. Taxis and rideshare services are also available.
The Kittitas County Fair offers a very limited amount of RV spaces. These RV spaces include options with hookups as well as dry campsites. RV spots with hookups are available on a daily, nightly, or weekly basis and require you to apply via email or phone in advance. Dry camping is first-come, first-serve.
If you’re concerned about the sparse availability at the event or you prefer a campground that’s away from the lights and sound of the fair, you’ll find plenty of options in and around Ellensburg. Want to be right in town? Try the Ellensburg KOA Journey. Other RV camping options include wilderness destinations outside of Ellensburg. If you’re willing to drive a little further west, you’ll find national and state parks with access to soaring mountains, ancient forests, and solitude.
The fair is situated on a sprawling outdoor venue that is best traversed on foot. If you’re lucky enough to grab an RV campsite at the fair, you will be close enough to walk to all of the rides, agriculture showings, and rodeo events. If you camp elsewhere in your RV, you can park or ride to the fair and walk around on foot. Keep in mind that the fairground covers a wide area, so you will be doing a lot of walking while enjoying your time here.
Weather in September in Ellensburg is usually mild and pleasant, during the day anyway. Pack casual clothing that’s appropriate for temperatures in the 60s and throw in some extra layers for cooler weather at night. You’ll be walking in and out of barns, riding rides, and sitting in the stands, so bring clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. Have comfortable, closed-toe shoes as well. And don’t forget your raincoat—this is Washington, after all.
Pack your camping gear according to what level of campsite you desire. For sites with full hookups, have cookware and other items that use electricity. For dry camping, bring firewood, flashlights, portable or solar-powered chargers for electronic devices, and everything else you need for living off the grid. Local RV campgrounds are more likely to have RV supplies for sale than sites at the event.
Bring all essential medical supplies, including prescriptions and over-the-counter items. You’ll be spending a lot of time outside at the fair, so pack sunscreen to prevent a sunburn from ruining your day. In case you end up dry camping, pack plenty of drinking water. If you’re camping in a forested area, bring bug spray.
Campground cooking options will vary depending on whether you stay at an established RV campground, at the fair itself, or elsewhere. Expect more options, including outdoor fire pits and communal kitchens at established campgrounds, and more restrictions and rustic cooking accommodations at the fair or in nearby wilderness destinations. There are grocery stores in Ellensburg for all of your campground meal ingredient needs.
Like the Kittitas County Fair itself, restaurants in Ellensburg tend to be quaint and local. When you’re ready for a break from deep-fried carnival fare, head into town for a meal at a local cafe. From farm-to-table restaurants that pair local beer with seasonal entrees, to down-home diners that specialize in family recipes, restaurants in Ellensburg are known for being as charming as they are affordable.
If carnival food is your favorite part of any trip to the fair, you won’t be disappointed by the offerings found at this event. Arrive hungry and get ready to enjoy classic carnival concessions, including ice cream, funnel cake, pizza, tacos, and more. If it’s fried and served on a stick, it can likely be ordered from a vendor at the Kittitas County Fair. Bring cash, as not all vendors will be equipped to accept credit cards.
The Kittitas County Fair is a popular event. As such, take security precautions as you would at any crowded gathering. Lock your vehicle, keep purses and bags closed, and stay with your group while enjoying the fair. Expect to see security at the event and be prepared to open bags upon entry. There may also be a police presence at the fair as well.
Ellensburg lies in the rain shadow of the Cascade Range, which means that it is dryer than some parts of Washington. With that in mind, don’t ditch your umbrella just yet. Rain is still possible in September. Temperatures during the fair can range from the high 50s to low 70s with room for variation throughout the day. Have layers with you, and don’t be surprised if you experience both sunshine and rain showers on the same trip.
Expect basic EMS services at the event in addition to first aid supplies. If you have a medical emergency or need to see a doctor for any reason, the closest hospital is just a mile away from the fairgrounds. Hospital availability in surrounding towns varies. There are also numerous pharmacies throughout Ellensburg.