Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

September 9, 2011 at 11:00am

It's time to do it in Puyallup

Ride it! / Photo credit: Patrick Hagerty

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THE FAIR OPENS FOR BUSINESS >>>

More than simply cows, crowds and cotton candy, the Puyallup Fair has grown up alongside the town it calls home. Featuring a vast array of livestock, rides, booths, games, foods (of course) and big-name concerts, the 17-day Puyallup Fair, Sept. 9 - 25, promises enough entertainment options to satisfy just about any desire - as long as those desires can easily be met while standing on straw in the presence of farm animals while eating a Krusty Pup.

Just like Puyallup as a town has grown exponentially from its small, humble beginnings, so has the Fair. What started as a three-day "Valley Fair" in a vacant lot has exploded into a monster spectacle - occupying 169 acres, regularly drawing crowds of 1.1 million per year and generally shocking the senses with a staggering array of ShamWows, sit-down foot massage machines, massive cows, hot tub demonstrations, Funtastic carnie people, Krusty Pups, onion burgers, giant stuffed panda bears, hypnotist shows, guys with Janet Jackson headsets trying to sell stuff, live concerts, elephant ears, and "fun for the whole family."

These days The Puyallup Fair is one of the top 10 largest fairs in the world - and it's only getting bigger. Every year, matching our American spirit, the Fair gets a little more ginormous, inching out and expanding steadily.

Progress, in other words.

But there are still plenty of people in Puyallup who remember how things once were - worn faces that recall the horse races and the excitement over new automobile models being unveiled, old-timers who remember the dorms where Puyallup's farming kids would come and stay while they worked for the duration of the fair, which lasted only nine days back then. There are people who remember how crowds flocked to see the draft horses and people who remember vividly the year the fair re-awakened after a four-year slumber because the grounds had been converted into a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II.

"The size of the Fair has changed dramatically. Puyallup was a sleepy farm town. Now it's a busy suburb. As the community changes, the Fair changes," Larry Bargmeyer told the Weekly Volcano in 2009. A long-time Puyallup resident, Bargmeyer recalls first attending the Puyallup Fair in 1946.

As huge as the Puyallup Fair has become, Puyallup's long-forgotten small-town identity still runs through it, part of the undeniable charm.

But these days, part of the undeniable appeal of the Fair also lies in the modern-day, big-time entertainment options it provides. Over the course of its 17 days the Fair will welcome as part of its Concert Series acts like Larry the Cable Guy, the Flaming Lips, Chicago, Counting Crows, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Sammy Hagar and the Wabos and Trace Adkins. This large-scale, well-known performers come in addition to the Fair's expected slew of smaller, more intimate performances, from regional talent like Danny Vernon's "Illusion of Elvis," Billy and the Hillbillies, Verlee for Ransom and many others.

"Our goal both on the grandstand stage and our various free stages is to provide a wide selection of entertainment to satisfy most all interests. Since the Puyallup Fair draws all ages, that means tastes differ, and we work to find artists that will meet those varied needs," says Karen LaFlamme, the Puyallup Fair's Public Relations Counsel. "For example, we offer free shows featuring Dora the Explorer, who is a highlight for little ones, as well as our new Puyallup Fair Music Series, which features local entertainment for the 20-40 age crowd."

"Our free stages offer more than music, too. We have an illusionist, hypnotist, dancers, and even a group that plays music using water bottles," LaFlamme continues. "The same theory of offering varied entertainment holds true in our Concert Series, where Larry the Cable Guy draws a much different crowd than Selena Gomez, and Counting Crows versus Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith."

[The Puyallup Fair, Sept. 9-25, 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. Sunday - Thursday, 10 a.m. - 11 p.m. Friday - Saturday, $11 adults, $9 student & seniors, children under 5 are free, 110 Ninth Ave. SW, Puyallup, thefair.com]

LINK: Today's schedule of events

Filed under: Events, Puyallup,
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News and entertainment from Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s most awesome weekly newspapers - The Ranger, Northwest Airlifter and Weekly Volcano.

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