Think you've seen it all at the Puyallup Fair? Consider the lineup of new attractions. A video gaming mecca. High divers plunging from three-story platforms. A budding pop star from Puyallup. Presidential turkeys (the feathered kind, not the elected ones). The fair offers plenty of new stuff alongside roller-coaster rides, piglets, Krusty Pups and other time-tested favorites.
The fair begins its 17-day run today.
If this year is typical, fair organizers expect more than 1.1 million visits to the fair, about the same number as last year. Attendance at fairs tends to remain stable, even in economic downturns as far back as the Depression, fair spokeswoman Karen LaFlamme said. Cash-strapped families who forego long vacation trips sometimes opt for the fair instead.
The fair includes a concert series of headliners such as Kenny Rogers and John Legend that require separate tickets. But in keeping with the tough times, fair officials are highlighting the scores of free activities awaiting visitors once they pay admission to the eighth-largest fair in the world. Here are some of the free highlights:
PUYALLUP FAIR WESTERN RODEO PARADE
A cattle drive, marching bands, horse hitches and costumed characters parade on Meridian Avenue in downtown Puyallup at 10 a.m. today. Admission to the fair is free until noon today with donation of a nonperishable food item.
WHITE DOVE GLEE RELEASE
Today’s opening fair ceremony at noon will feature the release of 300 white doves. Once released, the doves are expected to fly to their home in Des Moines, LaFlamme said.
FREE MONEY! EARLY GLEE WALLET GIVEAWAY
This Saturday and Sunday only, the earliest fairgoers will receive a free wallet packed with coupons and cash of up to $100. The fair will distribute 10,000 of the wallets during the weekend at each entrance to visitors paying admission. Better be early to snag one; 60,000 to 80,000 people typically attend the first Saturday and Sunday of the fair.
IGX VIDEO GAME EXHIBIT
Tikes to 20-somethings to senior citizens can try out the latest video games at 34 gaming stations at the IGX Video Game Exhibit. Game platforms include Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3 and XBox 360. Games range from Tekken 6, UFC Undisputed and Guitar Hero 5 to Madden NFL 2010, Wii Sports Resort and Lego Indiana Jones. Gamers also can test the latest version of Halo.
Weekday afternoons, players can compete in tournaments with prizes. At 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays, the exhibit hosts a senior citizens-only Wii bowling tournament.
The 1,000-square-foot traveling exhibit is housed in a tent near the Green Gate. In case you’re wondering, IGX stands for Interactive Gaming Experience.
FOSTER FARMS PRESIDENTIAL TURKEY PARDON TOUR
Two brethren from the same flock as the turkey that’s slated to receive a pardon from President Barack Obama this Thanksgiving will gobble it up at the Puyallup.
The birds will be wheeled through this morning’s kickoff parade accompanied by two men dressed as Secret Service agents and go on display at the fairgrounds Saturday and Sunday.
This is the turkeys’ third and final appearance at a fair this summer to celebrate Foster Farms’ selection as provider of the presidential turkey.
President George H.W. Bush began the practice of officially pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey in 1989, in effect sparing that turkey’s life from the hatchet.
But the pair at the Puyallup aren’t the birds expected to receive pardons. The actual turkeys – a presidential turkey and his vice-presidential back-up – hatched July 10 at the company’s Wellsford Ranch in Modesto, Calif., and are too young to make the fair rounds, according to a Foster Farms press release.
The chosen birds will travel to Washington, D.C., for presentation to Obama this fall, then serve as grand marshal of Disneyland’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and live out their lives at the theme park’s Big Thunder Ranch in Frontierland.
HIGH DIVE SHOW: “SINBAD: IN SEARCH OF THE GOLDEN PINEAPPLE”
Professional divers will play the roles of Sinbad and his Band of Gold Seekers in a slapstick comedy featuring spectacular dives off 3-meter boards and 5- and 10-meter platforms into a 38,000-gallon pool. At one point, divers jump from a trampoline into the pool. For a sneak peek of the Brown Entertainment show, go to www.highdiving shows.com.
Teens and tweens can enjoy entertainment and activities targeted to their age group Sept. 26. Puyallup native Mathias Anderle, Seattle alternative rock band Roman Holiday and “American Idol” sixth-season finalist Sanjaya Malakar from Federal Way will perform on the Coca-Cola Stage starting at 7 p.m.
Anderle, who now lives in the Los Angeles area, starred in the Nickelodeon movie “School Gyrls” along with Justin Bieber, and has a single, “Shine On,” featured on KIDZ BOP 17. He’s writing and recording for his debut album release in 2010.
Latino headliners, folkloric dancers, authentic food, artisans and kids activities will celebrate Mexico’s independence at the grandstand’s infield from noon-9 p.m. Sept. 19.
TRAVELING FARM EXHIBIT
Fairgoers can experience a new exhibit on wheels that will tour the region’s elementary schools to teach kids about animals and agriculture.
One of the exhibit’s state-of-the-art displays teaches kids about plant life cycles by turning dials that reveal the developmental stages of corn. The exhibit, funded by the Puyallup Fair Foundation, is on a 40-foot semi-rig in SillyVille.
De’Anna Nunez, the “Hypnochick” who performs throughout the country, is making her first appearance at the Puyallup. Nunez will combine hypnosis, comedy and music mixed by a live DJ in her nine fair performances.
Folks 62 and older can get a coupon sheet for fair savings and enjoy special events on Tuesdays. Among the events: coffee and pastries at 10 a.m., a state Attorney General’s Office presentation on avoiding scams at 10:30 a.m., and an exhibit of early 20th century costumes belonging to Chellis “Rhinestone Rosie” Swenson, who used to sing at the fair starting in the early 1980s.
Debby Abe: 253-597-8694, firstname.lastname@example.org
Do the Puyallup
When: Today through Sept. 26
Hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays; 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
2010 fair theme: “Free Your Glee”
Where: Puyallup Fair & Events Center, 110 Ninth Ave. S.W., Puyallup
More information: www.thefair.com
Full-price admission: Adults, $11; students (6-18), $9; seniors (62+), $9; ages 5 and younger, free
Parking: $10 Mondays through Fridays; $12 Saturdays and Sundays.
The bus: Pierce Transit’s “Puyallup Fair Express” buses provide roundtrip service each day from the Tacoma Community College Transit Center (19th and Mildred); Tacoma Dome Station (610 Puyallup Ave.); South Hill Mall (southwest corner near Sears); and Lakewood Towne Center (behind Target). They provide weekend-only service to and from the Bonney Lake Park & Ride, Sumner Sounder Station and Puyallup (Fourth Street Southwest and River Road, near K-Mart). Buses drop off and pick up at the fair’s Blue Gate. Fare is $1.75 each way. Up to four kids, 13 and younger, ride free with a fare-paying passenger. For more information, call 253-581-8000 or go to www.piercetransit.org.
Discounted tickets from Columbia Bank, Safeway, Schucks O’Reilly Auto Parts and South Hill Mall.
Free admission Mondays for active, retired and reserve military and National Guard and their dependents, plus disabled veterans with a valid military ID.
Free admission Sept. 17-19 for Boy Scouts in uniform, with a coupon available through www.thefair.com.
Free tickets through participating schools for students ages 6-18; students must have ticket for free admission.
For more deals, go to www.thefair.com.