Benton-Franklin Fair still summer's must-see event

It's so close, we almost can smell it.

That mix of straw, salty popcorn, fried burgers and cinnamon-sugared elephant ears -- it's all back again next week at the Benton-Franklin Fair & Rodeo.

The year's most popular community event runs Tuesday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturday, from 9 a.m. to midnight. So make plans now to fit in time to enjoy it.

Attending the fair has always been a great way to end the summer in the Tri-Cities. Gardeners have had time to grow their vegetables, while kids have had time to get their animals ready to show and sell.

A lot of parents see it has a final summer outing with the family before school starts. There's always so much to see, it's easy to spend the whole day and still not get to all of it.

One fun activity that shouldn't be missed, however, happens ahead of time.

The Grand Parade will kick off the fair at 10 am. Saturday in downtown Kennewick. It starts at First and Dayton streets and winds down Fruitland Street to Kennewick Avenue, then south on Auburn Street.

Prior to the parade, the 5K Rodeo Run begins at 8 a.m. on Clover Island in Kennewick. Runners can still register online at tinyurl.com/rodeo-run or on race day if they arrive at the starting line an hour ahead of time.

Finishers are promised a goodie bag with all kinds of items, including a fair admission ticket. Proceeds from the race help provide free mammograms for uninsured women at Lourdes West Pasco Women's Health Center.

A pancake breakfast will be served after the race, so it can be a great morning if planned right.

Go for a run, get a ticket to the fair, eat some pancakes without feeling any guilt since you've already exercised, then head down to watch the parade.

That sounds like a fun way to start a weekend, even if you aren't much of a runner. You'll also be helping a good cause.

In addition to Saturday's activities, there's also the Demolition Derby at 6:30 p.m. Monday For those with a passion for fast cars and exciting action, this is a must-see.

Tuesday offers something new to the annual lineup. Fairgoers. A four-team roller derby tournament, featuring the Tri-Cities' own Atomic City Roller Girls, is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the rodeo arena.

Musical acts take the mainstage every Tuesday through Saturday nights, featuring performers as varied as country icon Kenny Rogers to legendary rock band Blue Oyster Cult.

Information about this year's fair schedule and entertainment is available at the Benton-Franklin Fair and Rodeo website. Or take a look at the today's AT section in the Tri-City Herald. Spend a minute, check it out and schedule some fun.

Or just show up at the fairgrounds and wing it.

Either way, it will be a great time.