Old Timers Fair returns to Elma

With urban life being amplified in our era of social media dominance, rural life tends to be left in the dust.

However, rural life is full of treasures and mementos of the past that are open for all to explore and learn. For people looking to do an extra activity to put on the calendar for Mother’s Day weekend, then east Grays Harbor County may have something for you.

This weekend, the Matlock Historical Society is hosting their 2022 edition of the Old Timers Fair at the Mary M. Knight High School. The fair celebrates Matlock heritage in its timber industry, draft horses, early day machines and motors among other things. This will be the first time the fair is being held since 2019, which had to be canceled the previous two years due to pandemic restrictions.

The fair will be hosting a plethora of vendors for guests to enjoy, ranging from food, historical displays and vintage crafts for people to look at or buy. Other attractions include children train rides, tractor pulls, gardening sales and classic car showcases.

Jill Hall, who has been a part of the Matlock Historical Society for 30 years, says the event is a wonderful opportunity for the community to gather and appreciate the days of the past.

“The historical society started this fair back in 1987 with the intention of just showcasing old timber history, projects and machinery,” Hall said. “Now we have things like live music, raffles, kids’ activities and much more. It’s just something you can find fun for the whole family while getting the community together.”

Hall says the main attraction of the fair is centered around the John Tornow booth, which is in the museum that once served as the original schoolhouse built in 1924. According to the Matlock Historical Society records, John Turnow, who is also referred to by locals as “The Wild Man of the Wynoochee,” was a Matlock native with an obsession of nature that turned criminal.

There is no charge to attend the fair, but donations are greatly appreciated and used to support the historical society.

“The fair is free for all to enjoy and any donations we do get are used to restore the museum, as well as the John Tornow exhibit,” Hall explained. “It’s a real fun event and we’re just so happy to have the opportunity to host it again after not being able to the last couple of years.”

The event will be open to the public on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., as well as Sunday (Mother’s Day) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the high school located on 2987 West Matlock Brady Road in Elma. For more information, people are encouraged to look at the Matlock Historical Society website, as well as their Facebook page.