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New Washington State Fair opens Friday

Capital Press

A new name won't be the only thing visitors will notice when they enter the Washington State Fair. Giving the fair a statewide focus will spotlight more of its traditions, especially its agricultural roots. Among other things, it's the culminating state event for FFA competitors.

PUYALLUP, Wash. — When the fairground gates open at 9 a.m. Sept. 6, signs greeting the fairgoers will proclaim the event’s new name: The Washington State Fair.

The Puyallup Fair has consistently been one of the 10 biggest fairs in the country, so organizers were careful not to change too many things. The Washington State Fair will endeavor to bring more of a statewide appeal to the event, hopefully drawing more visitors from east of the Cascades.

Kent Hojem, the fair’s CEO, said, “It’s more than just a name change. It’s rebranding. It’s an opportunity to reinvent yourself.”

That rebranding includes amplifying the role of agriculture in the state. “Agriculture is one of the traditional things that make fairs great,” he said. “We want to refocus on those traditions and really shine a spotlight on them.”

Visitors to this year’s fair, which runs Sept. 6-22, will find that Evergreen Hall, formerly the Grand Marketplace, houses agriculture/horticulture, floral and Grange exhibits. “We can’t change everything this year, but we do want to make all kinds of participation available.

“We already have components that make it a state fair, especially with statewide 4-H and FFA competitions and national livestock shows. They have existed for literally decades — the name better reflects what the fair is.”

The name change will be an easy transition for the competitors, said Pat BoyEs, director of the state 4-H for Washington State University Extension. “We have multiple generations who have come to the Puyallup Fair. For over four decades, this is where our culminating state event is, where qualifiers go on to national competition.”

In years past, the fair has drawn more than a million visitors, but that’s not the only big number. Seeing to visitors needs are 1,900 employees, and more than 150 food booths are located throughout the grounds.

In 2012, visitors consumed 1.2 million scones, 92,150 pounds of potatoes (not including french fries), 86,400 ears of roasted corn, 55,000 pounds of onions, 50,820 pounds of hamburger patties, 37,353 pounds of chicken, 23,101 pounds of barbecue pork spare ribs and 5,630 gallons of milk.

The fair is run by a private, nonprofit organization and does not receive state funding.




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