Joyce Couch has never missed the Washington Town & Country Fair.
From watching her siblings show off dairy cows, to showing off dairy cows herself, to serving on the Fair’s Board of Directors for nine years to now leading the Fair as Board Chair directors, his love for the annual event has not waned. Every year, she said she looks forward to seeing the community come together to have a good time.
“I’m addicted to it, I love it, I think it’s an amazing community event,” Couch said. “The great thing about being on the fair board is that you can see things that the average fair goer doesn’t see.”
This year, as Chair of the Board of Directors, Couch had the opportunity to help shape the fair’s programming by adding an attraction of her choice, with the approval of the Board of Directors. Amanda Griesheimer, director of marketing for the Washington Area Chamber of Commerce, said the president’s event was part of the fair she looks forward to every year.
“I love that we have the President’s Event that changes every year and brings something new to the fairgrounds,” Griesheimer said. “Performances like this, I think, are especially popular because they interact well with the crowd.”
Couch chose the Ninja Experience, which features athletes flipping over a 60-foot-wide stage to perform gravity-defying stunts, paired with a sound and light show.
Couch said she instantly knew this was the show she wanted to add to the fair’s lineup after seeing it at the International Association of Fairs and Exhibitions. The convention was held in San Antonio, Texas, where all manner of acts were featured, from motorcyclists to magicians and jugglers to mermaids. Couch and Griesheimer were part of the Fair board group that attended the convention, November 29-30 and December 1, 2021.
“I always like to think outside the box and bring something different to the fair,” Couch said. “I also have an 8-year-old grandson, and he’s a ninja monster, so I think he may have inspired me a bit.” for audience members to try their hand at breaking boards during the show’s finale, Couch said. A stunt includes a performer jumping over five audience members, usually children, to grab a hat that the child at the end is holding. Although it’s a show for all ages, Griesheimer said she thinks young children will get the most animated reactions. Performers also request audience participation in certain stunts.
“It happens to be my favorite that they let the kids ride and break boards,” Couch said. “Of course they (the performers) break about 10 boards at a time, but they let the kids go up and break a board. I just thought it was cute.
Other stunts include performers gliding across the stage performing various feats including swinging from rings, scaling a 15ft deformed wall, demonstrations of taekwondo and other acrobatic stunts.
The show features parkour, freerunning, and stunts featured on American Ninja Warrior, an American reality show on NBC based on a Japanese reality show. The TV series, now in its 14th season, draws between 5 million and 6.2 million viewers per episode, according to the latest Nielsen Co. ratings.
“I think American Ninja Warrior inspired a lot of things – ninja lessons, theme weeks at camps, merchandise, even backyard playgrounds. It’s entertaining and intriguing,” Griesheimer said. “The Ninja Experience is designed to bring that excitement on a smaller scale to groups that might not otherwise have that live experience.”
The Ninja Experience is represented by booking agency Artists and Attractions and just wrapped up its run at the Franklin County Fair in Hilliard, Ohio. At the Franklin County Fairgrounds, the Ninja Experience performed each day of the five-day event.
Last year the Ninja Experience was an attraction at the Kansas State Fair, North Dakota State Fair, and in 2019 the Ninja Experience appeared at the Spring Fair in Washington State in Puyallup, Washington.
At the Washington Town & Country Fair, the Ninja Experience will have daily shows starting Wednesday, August 3. The 30-minute shows are scheduled at 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and at 12:30 p.m. , 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. All shows will take place at the north gate of the fairgrounds, known as the shuttle entrance.
Admission to the show is free with the purchase of a show ticket.
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