The Washington State Fair is more than a Pierce County tradition – this annual happening is one of the largest events in the state and draws people from all over. In fact, it is one of the top ten largest fairs in the entire country and lasts about 21 days each September with more than one million visitors showing up to enjoy the rides, fair food, concerts and other fair fun.
From the usual fair scones and Midway rides, Hobby Hall and animal exhibits, there are a lot of repeat favorites each year. That does not mean, however, that the fair has nothing new to offer, though. In fact, each year the fair organizers trot out a line-up of brand new attractions worth checking out.
“We have so many new, exciting things to see, taste and do at the fair this year,” says Stacy Howard, public relations manager for the Washington State Fair. “There is so much we wouldn’t want our guests to miss – animals of the world, new Fisher Scone ice cream, 20 nights of music, magic and comedy in our grandstand, the new Circus Jumbo (elephant) ride, and much more!”
Each year, the Columbia Bank Concert Series brings in a headliner concert for most days of the fair, and most years feature both return concerts as well as performers who have not stopped by before. Bonus, if you buy tickets for a concert, you also get free fair admission for the day. Ticket prices vary, and some shows are even free. Here are a few concert highlights:
September 1 at 7:30 p.m. – Nickleback with special guest Daughtry
September 2 at 7:30 p.m. – Lady Antebellum with special guests Kelsea Bellerini and Brett Young
September 3 at 7:30 p.m. – Steven Tyler with the Loving Mary Band
September 4 at 11:30 a.m. – End of Summer Bash (free!)
September 11 at 7:30 p.m. – Melissa Etheridge
September 14 at 7:30 p.m. – The Beach Boys
September 16 at 7:30 p.m. – Hank Williams Jr. with special guest The Cadillac Three
September 17 at 1:00 p.m. and 6 p.m. – Fiestas Patrias (free!)
September 18 at 7:30 p.m. – Casting Crowns with special guest Matthew West
September 21 at 7:30 p.m. – Modest Mouse with special guest Built to Spill
September 22 at 7:30 p.m. – An Evening with Earth, Wind & Fire
September 24 at 7:30 p.m. – Jason Aldean with special guest Kane Brown
New Food to Eat
Not that fair scones ever get old (because they do not!), but if you seek new food adventures, never fear. In 2017 expect some new food items on the menu. If you are a fair scone fan but just need a new twist on your old favorite, then you are in for a treat. This year will include Fisher Scone ice cream – the perfect addition to an already hotter-than-usual year! One twist: what exactly is in the ice cream is top secret for now. “I can’t tell…we’ve been sworn to secrecy,” adds Howard, which means it must be extra delicious.
There are beer gardens located throughout the fairgrounds, but this year debuts a beer exclusive to the fair – Raspberry Scone Golden Ale created by Puyallup River Brewing Co. The beer will make its first appearance at the End of Summer Bash and then will be available for the rest of the fair.
Other new foods include the Tornado Dog (a hot dog on a stick, wrapped in swirled potato), Stu’s Watermelon (watermelon drained and put back into the rind to drink with a straw), and new vendors Paella Pro and Deano’s Grill, which will serve up even more deep-fried foods and burgers.
You will also find a new Brew Park where you can sip some craft beer and enjoy some live tunes. The Brew Park will also have Thirsty Thursdays from 4:00 – 9:30 p.m. where you can get eight, 5-ounce craft beer samples for $30.
New Stuff to See
“Our new exhibits this year are Superhero Headquarters (back by popular demand with different characters), Giant Insect Adventure and Big Washington’s Imagination Workshop,” says Howard, speaking of which special exhibits will make appearances at the fair for 2017.
Superhero Headquarters was a fixture at last year’s fair and is the place to be if you have a superhero fan in your house. Superhero Headquarters features costumed heroes to meet and take photos with. It is a big hit with small kids, but pretty cool for older fans who want a unique fair photo, too.
The Giant Insect Adventure is new this year at the Centennial Building and requires an extra fee beyond fair admission to enter. The exhibit includes exactly what it sounds like – giant insects! These big bugs are 40 to 120 times larger than life-size and “live” in immersive habitats where you can watch them crawl, fly, forage for food or even do battle with each other. Critters at the exhibit include a 19-foot praying mantis, a 22-foot jungle nymph stick insect and a 15-foot caterpillar that morphs into a swallowtail butterfly.
For younger fairgoers, a stop by the Big Washington’s Imagination Workshop might prove worthy, so they can spend some time creating and building. This exhibit has a $5.00 admission fee and is located by the Red Gate.
One New Ride to Try
There is one new ride at the Washington State Fair this year – the Circus Jumbo elephant ride located in SillyVille. It is a kiddie ride, but adults who just need something new to do can go on it, too.
This year is also the 100th anniversary of the antique carousel. Take a ride and wax nostalgic on your own or be one of the first 100 riders on Labor Day weekend to get a free commemorative button.
The Washington State Fair takes place September 1-24, 2017, but is closed on Tuesdays as well as on September 6. The fairgrounds are located at 110 9th Avenue SW in Puyallup. Fair admission is $14 adults/$10.50 for seniors and students ages 6-18/free for five and under, but you can get discounted admission if you buy in advance online or buy the Fred Meyer Value Pack (make sure to pick yours up early as these packs are no longer available after the fair starts).