An Inside Look: The Washington State Fair


Anna Lemon, Journalist and Photographer

Here in Washington State our lives are blessed biannually with roasted corn, roller coasters, elephant ears, family fun, animal shows, and shopping in an event we call The Evergreen State Fair. In September and April thousands flock to Puyallup- battling for parking as far away as the kitsap mall, struggling with strollers and over excited children, free student tickets in tow- to participate in the fun of the fair. This is an event we look forward to all season- but it isn’t just us!

Those who make the fair what it is spend tons of time and money to prepare for the State Fair, but not just that, to even get in as an exhibitor or vendor is a feat in itself! One vendor testified, while drawing henna flowers on my hand, that the waiting list for vendors to get in and be able to set up booths can last for years. “And besides that,” she told us “Running out of materials is a mess! It’s good in that business is up, but we can’t keep that going if everything is gone.” The vendors that are run by companies separate from the company of the fair spend months and thousands in funds getting materials and merchandise together for the fair-goers. But their preparation process isn’t as time extensive as the 4-H animal barns, exhibited primarily in the September fair.

The 4-H program is a youth program focusing not only on the care and showing of animals, but also marketable trades like sewing, cooking, or computer programming. This program goes all year round and the state fair for many of the animals projects see the State Fair as a form of “finals.” Sarah Hansen, a 4-H member and PHS student in the dog project explained that she shows her Pembroke welsh Corgis, Zelda and Izzy, at shows between March and August until the State Fair. But not all dogs qualify to be exhibited at the fair. So the dogs we see are the best of each county.