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September 6-22

Washington State Fair is biggest event in the state

By CARY ORDWAY

Folks in the Pacific Northwest generally are not anxious for September to arrive because it signals the end of summer and, well, we all know that summers around here are way too short. There is one consolation, however, and that is that the biggest event in the state always plays out in September, and if there is something to get really excited about, it is the Washington State Fair.

While it was known for many years as the Western Washington State Fair, the event finally got a formal acknowledgement that it really is a statewide event and worthy of the new name, the Washington State Fair.

Longtime fair-goers might be forgiven if they remember this Puyallup-based fair mainly for its food because, no doubt about it, everyone looks forward to enjoying the marvelous delights cooked up fresh at the fair such as the scrumptious hot scones with fresh raspberry jam. Or another memory that seems to automatically re-emerge this time of year is that wonderful aroma of those Walla Walla sweet onions grilling alongside the hamburgers that beckon you as soon as you step outside of your car in the parking lot. The other food choices such as elephant ears and deep-fried this and that just seem endless. Altogether there are 160 choices, including some, believe it or not, healthy options.

But there is so much more than food when you plan a visit to the Washington State Fair. Another popular attraction is the music, with the fair bringing in some of the top names in musical entertainment throughout the duration of the fair, September 6-22. Whether it is pop or country or something else altogether, the music at the fair is always top-rate. Check out the fair website for the entertainment schedule and then plan your trip to the fair to coincide with your favorite musical act.

The animals are fun for the whole family, which is what fairs like this are all about. Agricultural and horticultural displays are big, and then you also can consider the fair a kind of shopping trip to find great deals on a lot of items that you may not find in regular stores. Entrepreneurs from all over the Northwest bring their wares and there are many live demonstrations to convince you to buy these products. Even established retailers exhibit at the fair, often offering significant price reductions if you purchase while you are at the fair.

The carnival is another family attraction and there is no question that the Washington State Fair midway is the Disneyland of the Northwest. Nowhere else in Washington will you get the variety of rides and attractions that you find at the Washington State Fair, including the new Rainier Rush, a super roller coaster making its debut this year at the fair. The new coaster takes you over 60 feet in the air and then downhill around wild loops, around curves and through an 80-degree banked inversion. Prepare for a wild ride with more than 5 Gs gravitational force.

There is so much more at the Washington State Fair and a detailed list of attractions is included at the fair website, www.thefair.com. For more information, phone (253) 841-5045. Admission is $12.50 for adults, $9 for kids 6-18 and for seniors 62-plus. Kids under 5 are free.

Photos, from top: One of many fair rides; backstage at one of the popular fair concerts; home page: tasty ribs just one of the many foods at the fair

Ride photo by Philip Palermo; concert photo courtesy Washington State Fair; home page photo by Patrick Hagerty

OTHER DESTINATIONS: If you're looking for other Northwest travel ideas, be sure to check out other Northwest Travel Advisor articles on Northwest zoos, Northwest water vacations, Port Townsend and Seattle attractions.

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