Each year at the Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup (Pew-wall-up), Washington, they host a spring fair that is held for an extended weekend in April. The Spring Fair is a lighter version of the popular State Fair that takes place for most of the month of September. There are not quite as many animals, exhibitors or rides, yet the Spring Fair is a great way to bid farewell to the Pacific Northwest Winter, and say hello to longer and warmer days ahead. For this particular visit, it would be the first time that I had been to the fairgrounds since the fall of 1997, back when the Washington State Fair was still known as the Puyallup Fair. I also brought along my nephew Kris for his first time at the Spring Fair, and as luck would have it, the weather was fantastic for our visit as the sun was out with nice cool temperatures.
We started over on the side of the fairgrounds opposite of the midway area and closer to the exhibition buildings. As shown on the map below, the Spring Fair did not include all parts of the fairgrounds as it is a lighter version of the larger State Fair, however, there was still quite a bit to see and do. They also promote the upcoming State Fair in September, including signs to show who will be holding concerts that year. The Washington State Fair has traditionally had some fairly well known names to come and perform, and while a large portion of the shows tend to be of country bands and singers, you do get a variety of genres each year. Personally, I'm hoping to come back in the fall to see Weird Al as I have been a longtime fan of his music and have heard that he puts on an awesome show.
Most of the rides are found together in the main midway along the Western side of the fairgrounds. Although there is one ride that sits away from the rest of the midway, their 1917 Merry-Go-Round. Placed in the Northeast corner of the fairgrounds, the Merry-Go-Round was created by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, who in the theme park world is best known for their work on wooden roller coasters, especially the trains that run on many of them.
Today, there were a lot of different kooky characters that you could run into at any point, including my personal favorite, the really tall grandma with an extra tall walker. This seemed to be new to me, however it is possible that they have had characters like this for a while.
Adding to the kookiness of the fairgrounds is this structure that was devised as a sort of giant musical instrument for fairgoers to play. It utilized everyday items that create different sounds and tones to form one giant percussion instrument. Very popular with kids and kids at heart!
The spring fair offers a variety of shows. A show that drew a large crowd was the pig races, where viewers were encouraged to cheer on the pig that represented their section of bleachers.
Another neat animal based show was Dock Dogs. This show was a competition for long distance jumping by different dogs, similar to the ones featured on outdoor sporting networks where the dogs jump as far as the can into the pool to retrieve an item out of the water. I have seen these kinds of contests on TV before, but this was the first time I saw it in person, and man can these dogs fly! This was Kris’s favorite show.
While we are talking about animals, as a kid I always felt that the Puyallup Fair was great for the high number of animals there were to see. While the Spring Fair does not have quite the same abundance of animals, they still have a lot of the same barnyard varieties of critters you would expect to find on a farm, along with educational displays about life on the farm, facts about the animals, and demonstrations such as sheering wool off of sheep.
But of course, no fair is complete without a visit to the midway for some rides! The Washington State Fairgrounds is unique from others as there are several rides that remain on site the entire year, while others are brought in from Funtasmic Shows for the Spring and State Fairs. Three of the main permanent rides include their three large roller coasters, Wildcat (Top), Rainier Rush (Middle) and Classic Coaster (Bottom). While these coasters are on site year round, they only operate during the two fairs.
Unfortunately the Wildcat was not open for this year's Spring Fair, so my chance to ride it again for the first time since my childhood will have to wait until the State Fair this fall. Kris and I did, however, get to experience the other two, starting first with Rainier Rush.
Rainier Rush is a steel roller coaster from the company Top Fun. This coaster had previously been known as Typhoon when it operated at Santa’s Village in Dundee, IL and at the Los Angeles County Fair. It operates on the site of the former Kersplash water coaster that once stood here (currently, it is partially assembled at Edaville USA in Carver, MA). It features several turning drops and an inclined-loop. To be entirely honest, I wasn’t a really big fan of the coaster due to its rough nature and jerkiness. Kris on the other hand was, and it was also the first coaster that he rode which went upside down! (I was proud of him for giving it a shot, although it took a little coaxing to get him to ride).
The real gem of Puyallup, however, is the Classic Coaster! Opened in 1935, the Classic Coaster (Also previously known as the Coaster Thrill Ride, or Giant Coaster at times in the past) was originally built as a side-friction coaster, and would later be modified in the 1940's to accommodate trains it runs with today when the owner of the coaster purchased them from Oaks Amusement Park in Portland, where they had been previously used.
Within the past decade, the fairgrounds made a great investment to preserve this classic ride and part of their history as they spent about 4-5 years replacing portions of the coaster so that it could provide thrills for future generations. To help fund the maintenance of the Classic Coaster, the fairgrounds created a little park area next to the coaster with a brick walkway. You can purchase a commemorative brick and have it added to the walk way with a custom message or logo, with proceeds going to the Washington State Fair Foundation to help facilitate educational programs and provide funding for fairground improvements and preservation projects like this one.
Along the walkway, you can also find different signs that give historical information about the coaster itself. Overall, it really adds to the look of the area near the coaster, and gives it more of a permanent amusement park feel that is normally not a part of fairs as many rides at fairs are part of traveling carnival companies.
That would bring an end to our visit to the Puyallup Spring Fair, I would like to Thank Kris for joining me on this fun visit down memory lane. Thank you for checking out this trip report, I hope that you'll continue to follow Coasting with Culture for more updates.
Take Care and Safe Travels!
The Classic Coaster was one of my first roller coasters, and to be honest I really didn't remember a whole lot about what it was like to ride since it was back in 1994. Since then, I have been on over 400 more coasters, so I would say it was time to refresh my memory.
The coaster is a lot of fun! Even though it had been rebuilt recently, it still has the rickety feel of an older wooden coaster. It provided some great moments of airtime, such as after the double down drop from the lift, but with the best moment coming from the drop after the first turnaround (If you sit in the back row, the amount of airtime is crazy!). It made me very happy to be able to ride this classic after having been such a long time since my first ride, and now I feel that memory of this ride's experience will stick with me better. If you do go to the Washington State Fair, this coaster is a must! For those who consider themselves coaster enthusiasts, it is worth the trip to Seattle to experience this classic!