It’s that time of year again! The time when all the locals here get a certain song stuck in their heads: “You can do it at a trot, you can do it at a gallup. You can do it real slow so your heart won’t palpitate…just don’t be late…do the Puyallup!”
Yup, Puyallup Fair time! But wait, what? They changed the name?!?! Who’s bright idea was that??? So evidently “The Puyallup Fair” (as it has forever been known and forever shall be) is now officially The Washington State Fair. Boo.
A lame new name wasn’t going to stop us from having fun though. This year, for the first time ever, the fair opened before Labor Day. We spent the Thursday night at my parents’ house with the kids and hightailed it over to the fairgrounds first thing Friday morning when it opened. For the first two hours it was free admission. The forecast was for quite a bit of rain, so between that and the weekday there were minimal crowds. We didn’t even have to stand in line for the free admission; we just waltzed right in.
Right off the bat we encountered something new. I guess they started it last year, but we missed it. Timber Gulch! Pioneer Farm is a place south of Puyallup that I got to go several times as a child. It is exactly what it’s name implies. A hands-on experience of what it was like to be a pioneer. Everything from chopping wood to churning butter to cleaning out stalls in the barn. Their Timber Gulch exhibit at the fair was set up like an old Western town. There was a long stretch of “buildings” set up: store, jail, blacksmith, saloon, undertaker, etc. In front of the buildings were a man and woman – in full pioneer costumes – to help teach people how to do the various things. Our girls got to saw and carve wood using old tools, churn butter, grind and sift flour…the works. Zoey especially loved it.
Across from the “storefronts” was the most perfect toddler area you could imagine. A “music” station of random metal things hanging on a rack with metal rods to hit them with. A “sandbox” full of beans with buckets, shovels and trucks. A “store” where you could collect plastic eggs from under stuffed chickens in their coops and gather baskets full of produce and then ring up at a toy register. “Cattle roping” from atop a real saddle on a hay bale. Mucking out a stall (seriously!). Milking a life-like-but-not-real cow. Arts and crafts. Riding pedal tractors. It all was so well thought out and executed and the kids just loved it!
No fair visit is complete without rides, of course, and this year Eleanor was tall enough to join Zoey on a handful of them. They sailed down a river in canoes (the same ride I went on at their age more than twenty-five years ago!). They rode a roller coaster, throwing their hands up in the air. They soared through the sky on the swings. They giggled their way down the Giant Slide. And they enjoyed the heck out of driving a purple car around a track. Oh, you better believe they loved every second of those rides.
We toured the Hobby Hall and the Showplex building with all the As-Seen-On-TV-esque items for sale. We ate an abundance of fair food. We took a break at an empty stage in one hall and the girls enjoyed some quiet down-time, coloring crowns and getting their nails painted by the young ladies at the Jobs Daughters booth and exploring the Girl Scouts booth across the way. Alden was thrilled to finally be out of the stroller and immensely enjoyed climbing and running on the empty bleachers under Grandma’s watchful eye.
Alden hadn’t quite gotten enough time to run free, so we took him to see the animals too which he loved. He’s really into animals right now, and gleefully exclaimed over all the goats, pigs, cows and llamas in the barn we had selected.
Last but not least, we headed into Superhero Headquarters, just in time to meet Thor and Captain America. After meeting the superheroes, we all had fun taking pictures with the comic-book inspired backdrops set up inside the tent.
By the end of the day we had all gotten our fill of delicious fair food (scones!) and were worn out. Our smart phones were telling us we walked over 16,000 steps that day, and Zoey walked most of those right along with us. What a trooper! We dumped the sticky kids in the tub at my parents’ house for a quick wash and then headed home. Needless to say, those kids slept well that night. As did we!