The Washington State Fair is filled with fair food and fun, but it’s so much more than that, too. This giant event heralds in the autumn season every year and sends summer off with a bang. More than 1 million people come from near and far to attend the fair – the largest attraction held each year in Washington and consistently one of the top 10 largest fairs in the country. Yeah, it’s a big deal and it’s a big deal for a reason. It’s a lot of fun!
Below is what you can expect in 2018, including both repeat attractions, food and rides, as well as what’s new.
In 2018, the Washington State Fair takes place from August 31-September 23.
Tickets and Discounts
Regular gate admission for 2018 is $14 for ages 13-61; $11 for kids 6-12 and for seniors 62+; and free for kids 5 and younger.
Parking is $10 on weekdays and $15 on weekends. You can also find private parking in yards and parking lots of around the fair for various prices, or if you’re willing to hoof it, you can park for free on neighborhood streets.
If what you seek is admission discounts, then your best bet is to buy in advance. If you buy online before August 30, general admission drops to $11 and children and seniors to $9.50.
There are various admission packages. One of the best is the Fred Meyer bundle available at – you guessed it – Fred Meyer, which gets you admission, food bucks and a couple rides for $38.95.
New this year
While the fair features plenty of repeat attractions, each year also brings in a lot of new food, rides and attractions worth checking out, especially if you’re a repeat visitor.
The Farm at Sillyville is a new exhibit especially for kids that includes more than an acre of hands-on farm activities so kids can learn more about where food comes from.
Discover the Dinosaurs has an additional ticket cost of $7 (2 and younger are free), but then you can wander among life-like moving dinosaurs and explore exhibits and activities.
Cirque Ma’Ceo Equestrian Stunt Show takes place during Labor Day weekend at the Paulhamus Arena and also costs an additional $7.
The World’s Biggest Bounce House is self explanatory and set to be pretty amazing for little jumpers who are at least five years old and three feet tall. Bounce sessions cost $5.
Outpost 47 is one of the most exciting additions to the fair – a food and drink venue (that also has family-friendly seating) with a full lineup of live entertainment to enjoy. Concerts are free, but you can buy VIP access for $10 if you want a guaranteed spot for a particular show.
The Pioneer Experience at Timber Gulch is billed as an 1880s variety show and is geared toward families with school-aged kids.
Run the Puyallup is a 2.5 km course through the fairgrounds on September 1 at 8:00 a.m. No strollers allowed and registration is $35 before August 15 and $45 after.
Food and Drink
Food and drink are the reason many people head to the fair and the choices are plentiful. The best way to go about it is to show up and wander until something strikes your food fancy – purchase, eat, enjoy.
But if you’re not sure where to start, then here are a few solid recommendations.
Fisher fair scones – these simple-yet-satisfying little treats are the most affordable and arguably most popular fair treats around. Served with butter and raspberry jam, people line up for these for a reason.
Fried food – you’ll spot elephant ears and corn dogs (also known as krusty pups) galore, but if what you seek is adventurous fried food, look for one of the fried food booths. There’s usually one near the front of the fair (Blue Gate) with everything from fried candy bars to fried butter.
Burgers – you can always go with a good ol’ Earthquake Burger, but the fair has gotten more adventurous. In the International Village, for instance, Exotic Burgers and Sausages has waygu, venison and alligator burgers on the menu.
Things to Do
The Washington State Fair is not only a fair, but also brings in a major entertainment lineup. Check the list of events and concerts to see if there’s anyone you want to see on the docket.
If you have any adrenaline junkie in you at all, then the fair rides are likely to have your attention. The best way to do more than a ride or two is to buy the Dizzy Pass, available only on select days: September 3, 6, 7, 10, 12-14, 17, 19-21. If you buy before September 2, a Dizzy Pass is $35 and you can go on all the rides your heart desires except for the Extreme Scream and Adventure Zone Rides. If you want to go on just a few rides, the Fred Meyer value pack is generally a great deal.
General wandering is also always best to include in your fair fun. Stop by the barns and say hi to the cows, horses, chickens and other animals. Pop into Hobby Hall to see what Washington residents have collected and created, or explore the Expo Hall, Showplex and other structures to shop for unique items, try some food samples, or listen to some vendors make their pitches.