Farm pavilion

David Lackey is desiging the exhibit space of the new Farm Pavilion. (Calvin Bratt/Lynden Tribune)

Lynden fair is working with David Lackey of New York City, but rural roots

LYNDEN ­— When David Lackey comes to Whatcom County, he is struck by resemblances to where he grew up in small-town Ohio. Farming is central, family ties are strong, churches are prominent. “It really feels like coming home to familiar territory,” he said.

Except Lackey is coming to Lynden from New York City now as principal in a world-class design studio. He is looking at the county through professional eyes and thinking how he can convey its agricultural ethos creatively, accurately and dramatically — and on the cutting edge of media and technology.

The object of Lackey’s energy is the interior of the new Farm Pavilion building taking shape on the Northwest Washington Fairgrounds. Although its framework will be done by the Aug. 12-17 fair, the inside needs the benefit of more time and money.

Lackey is on board with his skills for the Farming For Life Experience, as the overall exhibit will be called, and he will talk more about the vision at the Benefit Auction Event of the Northwest Washington Fair Foundation on Friday, June 21, in the Haggen Expo Building.

For many who come, it may be a first look at the plans. 

Through a few visits of Lackey to Lynden already, the fair’s board of directors has gotten a good preview of what’s in store — and it is exciting, said member Ron Polinder.

Lackey is “one amazing guy” who creates in “spectacular” terms, Polinder said. “It’s a big deal. What’s coming to that building is going to put Lynden on the map in ways not seen before.”

Lackey has proven himself at this type of work a few times over already. His Whirlwind Creative company, begun in 1989, specializes in the planning, design and implementation of permanent, temporary and traveling exhibits for museum, corporations and cultural centers. The resume’ by now is extensive (

Lackey crossed paths with Lynden native Merle Jensen back in the 1990s as the University of Arizona professor was developing his hydroponics food production systems, and Lackey was on a project involving agricultural research and technology. Their ongoing acquaintance — Jensen is now retired — became the basis for a connection to Lynden and its new fair building.

In short, the exhibit will be about the interaction of the production of food with the history of the Lynden community, Lackey said on a visit in April.

This will be in the central portion of a three-part main floor of the Farm Pavilion. It’s hoped that offices of a raspberry-focused station of Washington State University in Lynden, as well as a food lab and catering kitchen, can be in the wings of the building.

  • brochure that has been created, and will be available June 21, shows six segments within 7,000 square feet:
  • lobby and reception that also has a topographical projection map of northwest Washington.
  • an orientation theater.
  • local farm history, from first peoples and early immigrants to change and challenges, with a story pod.
  • a section on science and innovation, also with Cycles of Life and a game station.
  • Farming Northwest Washington, with a surround-theater Day in the Life of Northwest Farmers, a Farm to Table Discovery Area, and also about Packaging and Distribution in the farm in the agricultural industries.
  • a long Farming for Life Wonderwall hallway display.
  • a Signature Gallery for changeable exhibits.

Jim Baron, fair manager, reports that for the overall Farm Pavilion fundraising campaign, the fair is working with Jim Shapiro of Seattle and his The Better Fundraising Company, as well. 

Collaborative meetings are ongoing of a fair capital campaign committee with both Lackey and Shapiro.