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Washington State Fair Brings Big Thrills to Pullyap
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Set on 165-acres, the Washington State Fair in Pullyap is the largest fair in the Pacific Northwest and ranks as one of the biggest worldwide. Hyperbole those statements are not. According to the fair's public relations manager Stacy Van Horne, “Attendance was just under a million this year. The Funtastic Carnival, which has been our provider for fifty years now, did extremely well. The very best ride was the newest one,” she notes. “That was Revolution 360, the biggest new thrill ride we have had since Extreme Scream in 1999. The Revolution 360 had 24,034 riders during the fair.” She terms the ride “a real highlight of the carnival and the fair, it was very popular.” The ride is a pendulum-like experience that starts out gently, ranging higher and higher for a vast view of the fairgrounds below. Riders swung around in a complete 360 degree loop.

Also hugely successful were concerts and comedy in the fair's Grandstand Arena. “From Chicago to the Zac Brown Band, Dan and Shay, Styx, Third Eye Blind, and Babyface, there was something for everyone. We had over 120,000 guests over the fair's 20 days come out to the Grandstand concerts, which were offered at a range of prices,” Van Horne relates. Tickets ran the gamut from $30 up to $300.

Van Horne terms 2023 “A great year for the fair. We had mostly sunshine, although we did have a downpour of rain on our last weekend which hindered attendance a bit.” She adds, “However, it is the Pacific Northwest, so that isn't unexpected. Overall, it was just a great fair this year.”

Weekday fair admission was $15 for adults,  and  $13 for kids 6 to 18,and seniors. Weekend prices rose to $18 for adults and $15 for kids and seniors. There were free entrance days on Friday, September 1st with a nonperishable donation to the Puyallup Food Bank; on Labor Day Weekend kids ages 18 and under received free admission; on Mondays, free admission was offered for all active, reserve, and retired military and dependents with ID. And finally, on Friday September 8th, there was free admission for anyone from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Along with Revolution 360, the Funtastic carnival offered plenty of other rides for both adults seeking thrills, and kids enjoying fun houses and kiddie rides. 120 Ride & Game Tickets were available for $60 - a $12 savings, and 40 tickets for $24. Weekday unlimited ride passes were $55, $65 on weekends. The carnival was divided between ThrillVille and SillyVille area.

Besides the carnival fun, there were plenty of other fairgoer favorites this year, including a new wilderness survival experience called Survival: The Exhibition, an interactive experience featuring different environments such as the desert or artic, with lessons about how to survive in extreme conditions. This experience was an additional $9 for fair attendees.

The Farm at Sillyville was another popular attraction, taking kids and their families through a farm to table experience with animals and plants, teaching where the food they eat comes from. A station called the Bee Box allowed fairgoers to hear the sounds of bees buzzing and compare bee color-vision to that of humans. The Farm at Sillyville was a free attraction.

A new Shots & Spurs Line Dancing party took place between rodeo performances held at the Grandstand on Saturday September 9th; while throughout the run of the fair the Outpost 47 Stage & Bar, which made its debut back in 2018, was back with free entertainment including a Taylor Swift Tribute, IDOL X: The Billy Idol Live Experience, George Michael Reborn, Bob Seger and Creedence Clearwater Revival Tribute, among others.

Other favorites returning this year were the canine trick show Extreme Dogs, The Piglet Palace, and the Puyallup Rodeo, which ran Sept. 7-10.  The rodeo included events like bull riding, bareback riding, barrel racing, tie down roping, and steer wrestling, as well as a rodeo breakfast with the Wranglers. Rodeo attendees received free fair admission.

The Western Rodeo Parade and Cattle Drive took place Friday, Sept. 8 with a route into downtown Puyallup that included a cattle drive, equestrian drill teams, marching bands, and a bevy of costumed characters.

Of course, there were plenty of great fair food treats to enjoy, including those offered up by The Big Cheese, a new, cheesy food vendor with everything from Nashville Hot Cheese Curds with Cheddar Ranch to mac n' cheese tacos, Cheddar Cheese Soft Serve Ice Cream in a Cone, and Apple Streudel a la mode with Cheddar Cheese Ice Cream.

Other new vendors this year included Flaco's Tacos, the Spanish churros of Churreria, and Joe's Pretzels. Returning favorites included Krusty Pups, which hit  100 years of food offerings this year, including burgers, fries, and the eponymous Krusty Pups.

Were animals part of the fair? Yes indeed, including the diminutive pleasures of the Biggest Little Livestock Show featuring adorable miniature animals such as Dexter cows. A costume contest and obstacle course were new to this attraction.

Other highlights included fireworks presented every Friday during the fair's run at 10 p.m., and Fiestas Patrias, a celebration of Mexican culture and arts on the fair's Coca Cola Stage along with two free concerts on the Grandstand stage. Held on September 17, the event also included mariachis, dancers, and Mexican food.

Native American Days held September 20 and 21, brought educational displays and traditional dance and other performances on to the Showplace Stage.

Cows took their own form of center stage on September 20 to 24 with a new exhibit explaining the differences between dairy and beef cattle, along with a variety of breed information.

In short, the Washington State Fair was a big moo-ver and shaker this year – with plenty of fair fun for attendees.
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