Scroll through the thousands of images on Ted Strutz’ Facebook page and you’ll see the face-painted, watermelon-munching, blue-ribbon-award-winning smiles that encompass the San Juan County Fair.
Since 2011, Strutz has spent hours voluntarily capturing the countless faces that make the annual, four-day event a reality so attendees can have a digital snapshot of their memories.
“I’m thinking of having a T-shirt made,” said Strutz. “‘Unofficial fair photographer,’ so people know why I’m taking their pictures.”
Strutz wasn’t hired by the county fair board or commissioned by staff, but every year the newly retiree takes up to 3,000 photos at the fair and posts about 300 a day on his personal Facebook page.
Organizations like the fair board, as well as the local library, have used Strutz’ images in promotions. The charge for photos, assured the longtime islander, is always on the house.
“This is just something fun to do,” he said about taking photos. “It’s not a big deal.”
Yet, countless islanders have approached him over the years with the same question: “Will you take my picture?”
His skills first gained attention when he photographed his granddaughter Isabella’s soccer and softball games before she graduated from Friday Harbor High School about four years ago. Parents, who couldn’t make it to off-island games, appreciated seeing plays through Strutz’ Facebook photo albums.
So, Strutz started snapping more – the Fourth of July parade; Spring Street International School plays, featuring his other granddaughter Ula; and, of course, the county fair.
Strutz doesn’t just focus on a specific section of the fair either, said county fair staff member Adrienne Bourne, but instead concentrates on the various pieces that make the event whole.
“Ted’s photos capture all the hard work, volunteer commitment and all the good people and things that give San Juan County such a strong sense of community,” she said.
His favorite fair subject, said Strutz, is also the soul behind the event.
“The fair only works if people participate and volunteer to do things,” he said. “That’s what makes the fair: people.”
Have your photo taken at this year’s fair, through Aug. 18 at the San Juan County Fairgrounds, when Stutz returns with his trusty Canon camera.
Read more about the fair in the San Juan County Fair Guide.