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Washington State Fair opens Friday; new features grace Puyallup during 17-day run
Friday marks a brand new era for a 113-year icon.
The Washington State Fair in Puyallup debuts, running for its traditional 17 days. The 10th largest fair in the country has represented the people, animals and agriculture, and arts in Washington for decades, and the name now recognizes that presence.
Tradition holds that on opening day the fair kicks off with the annual cattle drive and the Washington State Fair Western Rodeo Parade. It unfolds at 10 a.m. Friday on Meridian Street in downtown Puyallup. Corriente cattle lead the way, followed by draft horse hitches, marching bands, equestrian drill teams and costume characters.
A rodeo breakfast runs from 8 to 10 a.m. for $2 at Pioneer Park's Pavilion, across from Puyallup City Hall, next to the parade route.
Gate admission is free from 9 a.m. to noon Friday, with a recommended non-perishable food donation for the Puyallup Food Bank. Last year a record-breaking 200,000 pounds were collected on opening day.
• Luminasia (daily): This ancient lantern-making craft has been transformed and modernized to dazzle its audience in this larger-than-life production. Artisans from China have been on the grounds in Puyallup since Aug. 3 assembling the exhibit. More than 50,000 state-of-the-art bulbs are used to illuminate the spectacle for viewing day and night. The result is an East meets West fusion. This is a separate ticketed event, and tickets are available online at www.thefair.com.
• Rainier Rush: This looping inversion coaster guarantees a stomach-twisting experience. It will take you more than 60 feet in the air, then speeds downhill around wild loops, along wavy tracks and bendy curves. The 80-degree banked inversion is unique, offering a fear factor. Rainier Rush offers a smooth ride, in spite of its plus 5.8 gravity force.
• Opening Weekend Comcast Dizzy Pass bracelet. This is a first, a weekend bracelet on Sept. 7 and 8. Sold for $35 on site, they include all rides except Extreme Scream and Rainier Rush.
• Laser Shows (nightly at 9 and 9:30) and fireworks spectacular (10 p.m., Sept. 6, 13, 20). Take advantage of a great laser show every night of the fair, near the Planting Patch.
• Evergreen Hall: The Floral Department and the Agriculture and Horticulture Department have moved into a new facility so that both produce and flowers from the rich earth in Washington can be shown.
• Sounder Train (Sept. 14 and 21): The train serves 12 stations between Everett and Lakewood. Shuttle service will be offered from the Puyallup Station to the fair.
• Crazy Worlds' 5D Adventures: Immerse yourself in a walk-thru interactive, multimedia experience. Imagery comes to life with 3D glasses (provided). Free with fair admission.
• Green Marketplace: The Funky Junk Sisters will be here Sept. 6-10, with the Wild West as a fun family theme from Sept. 11-16. The last six days will feature artisan products from the region.
Tradition is still a strong part of the fair, since both the 4-H and FFA State Fairs are held at the same time. Other popular favorites include animal shows, home arts cooking contests and quilts, the International Photo Exhibition that draws entries from all corners of the globe, Hobby Hall, floral designs and rides.
Top-name entertainment highlights the Columbia Bank Concert Series again this year. Headliners range from Carrie Underwood to Kid Rock, and Larry the Cable Guy to Trace Adkins. Purchase tickets at www.thefair.com/concerts, and you can select your seating. Free entertainment stages and strolling entertainers feature something for all ages.
Fiestas Patrias is Sept. 15 as a ticket-required event. Enjoy the festivities starting at noon, from entertainment to booths to local Latino music. The event headliner in the evening is Roberto Tapia. The $37.50 bracelet includes fair gate admission. Children 12 and under can enjoy free admission to Fiestas and the concert with parents. Purchase tickets at www.thefair.com/concerts.
If you want to see the best cowboys and cowgirls in the sport fight for their rodeo lives, then attend the Washington State Fair Rodeo, Sept. 6-8. Their destination is the National Finals Rodeo, but the road to that competition in Las Vegas goes through Puyallup. Purchase tickets at www.thefair.com/rodeo/.
Free admission for kids the first Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 7-8. To take advantage of BECU Free Kids' Weekend, download a coupon at becu.org/freekids, and turn it in at the gate either day in lieu of gate admission (up to 18 years).
Special activity days include Military Mondays on Sept. 9 and 16, offering free gate admission to all active, reserve and retired military and National Guard and their dependents, plus disabled veterans when each shows valid military ID at the fair gate, thanks to partners Chevrolet, 94.1 KMPS and KZOK 102.5 FM. Senior Tuesdays, sponsored by Walgreens are on Tuesdays, Sept. 10 and 17, with a presentation by Walgreens and Verizon focused on seniors.
Discount gate and ride savings
Gates open at 10 a.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. on weekends. Season passes are sold at Walgreens for $29.50 for adults and $19.50 for students (ages 6-18 years), and include other special savings. Advance gate admission tickets are available through Sept. 22 at participating Walgreens and Safeway stores in western Washington, and South Hill Mall, while supplies last:
Prices: adults $12.50 (at the gate) and $10 (advance); students (6-18) and seniors (62 and older) are $9 (at the gate) and $7.50 (advance); kids 5 and under free.
Ride deals featured this year include:
• Value Packs are sold at Fred Meyer through Sept. 6 for $35.95, and include two gate tickets, any six Funtastic rides (excludes Extreme Scream), 10 food bucks, and a 2-for-1 coupon for the 1 p.m. rodeo on Sept. 7.
• Extreme Deal – Ride the Extreme Scream for only $7.50, Mondays-Thursdays, Sept. 9-12, 16-19.
For more information, visit www.thefair.com, or text "FAIR" to 87767.