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Parks Department rushes to repair damage at Fairgrounds

"Riley Evans feels torn.His daughter plays soccer with the Tracyton Soccer Club and is involved with 4-H, an organization which participated in the Aug. 22-26 Kitsap County Fair.He saw these interests collide last week when he witnessed horse trailers and trucks thrashing the Kitsap County Fairgrounds athletic fields.We arrived for (soccer) practice at 5:30 p.m. (Aug. 23) and we saw the county Public Works backhoe pulling a large eight-horse trailer across two fields, Evans said. He doesn't want to make trouble for the Fair, Evans said, but he's frustrated that an event that lasts just five days can cause lasting damage to fields used year-round for youth athletic events.His sentiments echo those of numerous parents who have let their displeasure be know to Fairgrounds administrators.It's embarrassing when you bring other people to play here, it's awful, Mary Elliot said as she watched her daughter, Sydney, coach youth soccer on Fairgrounds field No. 1 Wednesday, Aug. 29.Fields 3 and 4 were marred by ruts apparently caused when horse trailers were parked on them during heavy rain on Aug. 22 and 23. Children practiced nearby for soccer season, which opens in a week. Cris Gears, director of Kitsap County Parks and Recreation, said the situation was a mistake and resulted from miscommunication during last week's Fair. We didn't direct that to be done. The cowboys who had trailers to park ran out of room and took advantage of the open space. I doubt they thought they would sink in up to their axles, Gears said.He added that the fair management allowed trailers to park on field No. 5, the facility closest to Thunderbird Stadium, which hosts the rodeo. But rain and the cancellation of the rodeo for two days created an overflow. The cowboys who usually would leave after one day of events stayed until they could participate. Fairgrounds maintenance crews have been working to repair the fields since Tuesday, Aug. 28. Luckily, the underground drainage system at the facility was not affected - the damage was purely cosmetic, said Beverly Reeves, maintenance and operations supervisor for the Fairgrounds.We've started filling in the ruts with sand and topsoil and top-seeding, Reeves said. She estimated the repairs would be complete by yesterday, Aug. 31.However, it might be difficult for the grass to grow back when the fields already are being used heavily for soccer practice, Reeves acknowledged.Gears said Fairgrounds administration is discussing how it can avoid similar damage next year.We are already working on a plan we hope will solve this if we get hit with it again, Gears said. "

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