We even have tips on how to get in free
Since 1900, the Washington State Fair has been entertaining families and has grown from a three-day event to one that lasts for three weeks. Over the years it has grown to a monstrous size making it one of the 10 largest fairs in the U.S. If you’re not prepared, a simple day at the fair can be overwhelming for the average family. Whether you are planning for a day of family fun or a special date night concert, we’ve got the scoop on the best things to see and do at the fair this year!
Where: The Washington State Fair is located at 110 9th Ave. SW, Puyallup, WA
When: This year’s fair runs Sept. 1-24, 2023. It is open every day except Tue. and Sept. 6
Hours: The fair is open as follows:
Sun. – 9:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
Mon., Wed. & Thur.: 10:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.,
Fri.- 10:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.,
Sat.-9:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
(Closed on Tuesdays)
Score on Tickets
- Mon.-Fri.: $15 for adults, $13 for kids and seniors (62 & up)
- Sat. & Sun: $18 for adults, $15 for kids and seniors (62 & up)
- Kids age 5 and younger are always free
How to Save on Tickets:
You’ll save the most money and time on tickets if you buy them online. Early bird pricing is good now through Aug. 25. These tickets are good for any day of the week: $14 for adults, $12 for children and seniors (62 & up). Kids aged 5 and younger are always free.
If you plan to visit the fair for multiple times this year, consider buying a Season Pass for $59.50. Each pass is good for one admission by the same guest each day of the fair’s run.
Get in for Free
Every year the fair offers a few days where you and your crew can get in for free - or almost anyway.
- Sept. 1: Arrive between 10:30am - 12:30pm with a suggested non-perishable food donation for the Puyallup Food Bank for free admission. Even if you get to the gates after 12:30 p.m., you’ll still save as all kids ages 18 and under get in free all day!
- Sept. 8: Arrive between 10:30 and 12:30 p.m. with a suggested new school supply donation for free admission.
- Military Mondays: The fair offers free admission for active, reserve, and retired military and National Guard and their dependents, plus disabled veterans, when each shows valid military ID at any fair gate every Monday.
Park Like a Champ
While you’ll see plenty of the neighbors offering to let you park on their lawn, opt to park on one of the fairgrounds parking lots to save a few steps. Parking is $15 Mon.-Fri. and $20 Sat. & Sun.
Tip: You can save three bucks on parking Mon. through Thur. when you purchase a parking pass at a participating O’Reilly Auto Parts store.
You can also opt to reserve your parking spot ahead of time for a hassle-free start to your day. Premium Parking ($35) guarantees you a spot in a parking lot closer to the gate. Feeling extra special? Go for the VIP Parking across from the Gold Gate for $50. (Must be reserved for a specific date in advance online.)
Alternatively, you can even take an Uber or Lyft to the fair. The Drop Off and Pick Up spot is located on the North side of the fairgrounds.
Ride on the Wild Side
If you are already planning on shelling out some extra dough for the amusement park rides, the fair offers a variety of inventive ways to help you save a few bucks. As with admission tickets, it is also a good idea to purchase ride tickets ahead of time instead of waiting in line during your visit. Keep in mind that all of the rides require multiple tickets. Nine to 14 tickets per ride is the average. You can get 40 tickets for $24 or 120 tickets for $60.
Tip: To save a few bucks on tickets, take advantage of these offers:
- Ride & Admission Bundle: The bundle includes two fair admissions (good for any day) and six rides for $41.95. The bundle is only offered online through Aug. 25, 2023 and it does not include rides on the Extreme Scream, Classic Coaster and Wild Cat.
- Xfinity Dizzy Pass: Good for unlimited rides (except the Extreme Scream and Adventure Zone rides). It also Includes two free games. Dizzy Passes are valid for one-day use only and DO NOT include Fair gate admission. The passes are offered as follows:
- Select Weekend Days: Sept. 4, 9, 10, 2023. The pass is $60 online or $65 at the gate.
- Select Weekdays: Sept. 7, 8, 11, 13, 14, 15, 18, 20, 21, 22, 2023. This pass is available for $45 if purchased before Aug. 25 or $55 at the gate.
Make a Plan
The fairgrounds are HUGE, so it’s best to make a plan before you arrive so that you aren’t backtracking and missing out on a lot of stuff. First, visit the fair’s website (after you’re done reading this of course!) to find more information on which shows are performing on the day that you’re there. Make a list of the ones you think your family will enjoy.
After you have a list, download the Fair’s Mobile App to navigate the Fair with ease. You can even create a favorites list of activities, entertainment stages, rides, food to make sure you don't miss a thing. Plan your day around the shows that you want to see. For instance, you can see the baby animals at any time during the day, but a special children’s show may only be offered a couple times a day.
Plan to arrive at the fairgrounds early as well to avoid crowds. If your family has been wanting to ride that big ‘ol Classic Coaster, put that on the top of your list. The more you can experience early, the more you’ll see overall. Don’t stop at the commercial booths. You’ll have plenty of time to see what’s inside there later on in the day.
Here are some suggestions on things and shows that you do not want your family to miss out on:
Experience the Scone: People not raised in the PNW have a hard time wrapping their head around the classic Fisher Scone. These fluffy, raspberry jam-filled biscuits are truly a favorite of many. While scones are offered in numerous places around the fairgrounds, take your family to the original spot under the grandstands. They’ll be able to see the large Ferris wheel oven that bakes them perfectly.
Survival: The Exhibition: This new exhibit is an add-on and rumor has it, it’s pretty good. The fair explains it this way: “Adventure, fun, and science collide at this exhilarating, heart-pumping and daring journey of bravery and brains. Experience the thrill of exploration, gain an appreciation for the wonders of nature, and prepare for the unexpected—all within an interactive, informative, and safe space.” Tickets are $9 for those age 3 and over or $30 for a family of 4.
The Farm at SillyVille: This is one of the best (and free!) exhibits in the fairgrounds for its education and interactive elements. It tells of Washington’s food and farming story and gives kids a better idea of what farmers do, the food that we eat, and making healthy eating choices. There’s a lot of photo opps here too.
Tractor Tracks: Although not a “ride”, your kids will think it is. Little farmers can cruise around a picturesque track on a pedal tractor that travels by a river and a tiny town. It’s free too!
Fair Farm: No trip to the fair can be complete without a visit to the petting farm and “Piglet Palace.” Here you’ll find bunnies, goats, llamas and even chicks.
Grange Displays: The Agriculture & Horticulture Displays present larger-than-life murals created using fruits and vegetables. It’s pretty cool for everyone.
Get Lost in a Free Show
Not only does the Washington State Fair offer some of the best concerts (more on those below), it also offers a variety of free entertainment that is worth a stop:
Outpost 47: This family-friendly beer garden features live music all day long. Most are tribute shows featuring the music of Taylor Swift, Billy Idol, George Michael, Bob Seger, Aerosmith and more.
Extreme Dogs: These high-flying, extreme sport, wickedly talented and athletic animals are amazing. The show features world champion trainers and the highest level of performing dogs.
Professor Smart’s Science Show: A quirky and entertaining show with interactive science lessons.
Chicago Honey Bear Dancers: This high-energy song and dance show features a surprise singer from American Idol performing fan favorites from the 1950s to today's hits. It promises a show full of singing, dancing and audience participation. They boast that it's “phenomenal entertainment for the entire family!”
Molly’s Choose Your Own Adventure – The Musical: Another interactive show allows the audience to get involved in the story-making. You choose the adventure and help Molly find the missing script. Should she return to the circus or visit a tropical island? You decide with the use of the interactive applause-o-meter!
Roberto the Magnificent: Roberto has captivated audiences for more than two decades. Each of his performances are filled with comedic chatter, breathtaking visual stunts and … you guessed it… lots of audience participation.
Master Hypnotist Tina Marie: We’re intrigued by this one. Tina Marie is a comical hypnotist. Through post-hypnotic suggestions, she commands the winner of a million dollar lottery to jump up out of their seat screaming "I won, I won!" or tells another to make an impression of Richard Simmons conducting a group exercise class.
The Jungle Book: As part of their 10th season of bringing outstanding programming to tour in the US, The Panto Company USA brings this cherished story to life on stage with a musical production.
Enjoy a Great Concert
Almost every day at the fair, you can catch a favorite musical act or a well-known comedian. The only two designated family-friendly ones are Kidsz Bop and Fiestas Patrias (the latter one is free!). Still, we wanted to include the full list in case you can convince your kids or make it a date night for you.
- Sept. 1: An Evening with Chicago
- Sept. 2: Kehlani
- Sept. 3: Kane Brown with Dylan Schneider
- Sept. 4: The Temptations
- Sept. 7: Joe Nichols Dancin' In The Dirt Party
- Sept. 8: Dylan Scott Dancin' In The Dirt Party
- Sept. 9: Colt Ford Dancin' In The Dirt Party
- Sept. 11: Tyler Hubbard
- Sept. 13: Zac Brown Band with Lindsay Ell
- Sept. 14: Kidz Bop
- Sept. 15: An Evening with Jeff Foxworthy
- Sept. 16: Pentatonix with Lauren Alaina
- Sept. 17: Fiestas Patrias
- Sept. 18: Casting Crowns with Anne Wilson
- Sept. 20: Third Eye Blind with Built To Spill
- Sept. 21: Styx with Nancy Wilson's Heart
- Sept. 22: Yung Gravy & bbno$
- Sept. 23: Babyface with SWV
- Sept. 24: Dan + Shay with Tyler Rich
The Puyallup Rodeo
The Puyallup Rodeo is part of the fair and runs from Sept. 7-10. One of the biggest events is also free. The Western Rodeo Parade & Cattle Drive takes place outside of the fairgrounds on Sept. 8, 2023. The cattle drive starts at 10:00am and travels down Meridian Street in downtown Puyallup. This year's Grand Marshal is KOMO News Anchor, Eric Johnson.
Meanwhile, back in the fairgrounds, the CINCH Playoffs features the top 24 contestants from the Playoff Series competing with the top four from Puyallup and the top eight out of the standings of the Playoff Series. The winners will advance to the Governor’s Cup in Sioux Falls South Dakota. Reserved seating for the rodeo events run $35-$45 and INCLUDES same-day fair admission. (Online orders subject to standard fees. All tickets are non-refundable and non-exchangeable, regardless of weather. Events held rain or shine.) Imagine your kids saying, "Why yes, this IS my first rodeo."
About Sillyville and Thrillville
The amusement rides are broken up into two sections – Sillyville for the little guys and Thrillville for everyone else. Sillyville encompasses five acres of a park-like setting featuring a vintage train and station and a classic town square. It’s a little less chaotic providing for a environment that is more comfortable for a lot of kids. For families with kids who are a little braver, head on over to Thrillville where you’ll find an antique carousel, the Extreme Scream, the Grand Wheel (super large Ferris wheel), bumper cars and more.
A lot of families wait until late in the day to ride the rides, but if you do, you’ll also be waiting in longer lines as well.