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The Washington State Fair is back

And it's bigger and better than ever

Photo credit: Patrick Hagerty

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The Washington State Fair is back, and it's bigger and better than ever with more days, more acts, more rides ... more everything.

This year, opening day will be the Friday before Labor Day, Sept. 2, instead of the traditional after-Labor Day opening. The result will be more days to give Fair visitors even more opportunities to enjoy Washington's premier fair. Also for the first time this year, the Fair will be closed on Tuesdays. The decision to close on Tuesdays is an attempt to alleviate some of the traffic issues surrounding the Fair and to allow vendors and staff members a day off to rest and refresh their booths and exhibits.

Don't worry, though. Not everything has changed. The Washington State Fair will still include all those things you've come to love:

Food. Along with everyone's favorite concession stands (Elephant Ears, anyone? How about cotton candy? Or a little deep-fried butter, perhaps?), there will also be a Beer Garden and the End Zone Sports Bar, where you can grab your favorite adult beverage and some tasty pub grub and watch the Seahawks' season opener on a big-screen TV. No more choosing between the game and the Fair.

Rides. The midway this year will include everything from a merry go-round and kiddy rides for the little ones to roller coasters and thrill rides galore for the more adventurous type. If that's not enough, you can stroll on over to the Adventure Zone where, for an additional fee, you can try out some really great features, including the Sling Shot, the Walk on Water, Paintball, and the EuroBungee.

Entertainment. With the price of admission, Fair goers can enjoy a steady supply of free entertainment, including an opportunity to meet Seahawks' defensive end, #72 Michael Bennett, Friday, Sept. 23, and to see the SeaGals perform Saturday, Sept. 24. In addition, performers such as Kid Rock, Tim McGraw, Smash Mouth, J. Cole, For King & Country, Matt Maher, Jeff Foxworthy and Charlie Wilson will light up the Grandstand Stage as part of the Columbia Bank Concert Series. Concert tickets can be purchased at, and general Fair admission is included in the price.

And of course, there's the rodeo. This year's rodeo kicks off at 8 a.m. Friday, Sept. 9, with a Rodeo Breakfast at Pioneer Park, located at 333 S. Meridian St. in Puyallup. That will be followed by a parade and cattle drive down South Meridian. The first event begins at 1 p.m. Friday. Bull riding, bareback riding, tie-down roping, team roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronco riding and barrel racing will continue 6:30 p.m. Friday; 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10; and 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11. Rodeo tickets are available online at and include general fair admission.

Then, of course, there's also Ag-Ventureland, an interactive exhibit for pint-sized cowpokes, and the Fireworks Spectacular every Friday night at 10 p.m. is not to be missed.

The Fair runs through the last Sunday in September. Parking is available onsite for $10 on weekdays and $15 on weekends. Or you can save time, money and aggravation by hopping aboard the Pierce County Fair Express, which leaves from the Lakewood Towne Center, Tacoma Mall and South Hill Mall hourly on weekdays and every 30 minutes on weekends. Cost is $2 each way for adults and $1 for seniors and youth ages 6 to 18 years. Children ages 5 and younger are free. Fair admission at the gate is $12.50 for adults, $9 for students ages 6 to 18 years, and seniors ages 62 and older. Children 5 and younger are free. Discounted Early Bird tickets are available through Sept.1 online, at select Albertson's and Safeway stores, and at the South Hill Mall.

Washington State Fair, Sept. 2-25, open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays; 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays; closed Tuesdays; Washington State Fair & Events Center, 110 9th Ave. SW, Puyallup; Adults, $12.50; students ages 6 to 18 years, $9; seniors ages 62 and older, $9; children ages 5 and younger are free,

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