The Washington State Fair is discontinuing Senior Tuesdays this year while it re-evaluates its entertainment and services for older fairgoers.
Officials decided in May to stop the decades-old tradition at the fairgrounds in Puyallup due to low participation and a need to research the evolving senior market as baby boomers age.
“Seniors today are nothing like seniors of 20 years ago,” fair spokeswoman Karen LaFlamme said in an email. “They are more active, busy, and honestly, aren’t interested in this type of event.”
Senior Tuesdays, which were held each Tuesday during the 17-day fair, included free coffee and pastries at the ShowPlace stage in the morning, as well as senior-oriented speakers and free entertainment.
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Discounted admission for seniors applies every day of the fair, and will continue this year. Those 62 and older will pay $9 instead of the $12.50 general admission to the fair, which opens Sept. 5.
The ShowPlace stage once bustled with seniors taking advantage of the special days, but that has since tapered off. LaFlamme remembers serving 400 cups of coffee to about 200 people at the stage. Now, she said, only about 25 people attend.
Vendor coupons that are handed out to seniors each Tuesday aren’t used much, either, she said.
“Over the years it has gone from a popular event to a poorly attended event,” LaFlamme said. “We are researching the senior market, which we all know is drastically changing.”
Trudi Bocott, senior services assistant at the Puyallup Activity Center, told The News Tribune that she understands the fair’s need to be progressive in order to serve seniors well.
“Sometimes you need to stop something before you revisit it,” Bocott said. “We do that here at our center.”
Still, Bocott said the seniors she serves are disappointed that Tuesday events are being discontinued because the “day was built around them.”
“I just feel bad because it’s been a tradition,” she said. “Anytime you lose something, it’s sad.”
Bocott added that members of the senior center where she also works in Yakima make the trip each year for the fair’s Senior Tuesdays. She said they, too, are disappointed with the news.
“That’s a long way to come,” she said.
Bocott acknowledged that the fair’s effort to learn more about today’s seniors is important, because the age group is different than it was years ago. She just hopes it isn’t a permanent end to the special events.
Diane Moffitt, 74, also hopes the fair reinstates Senior Tuesdays, but with new and improved entertainment and offerings.
Moffitt, who’s lived just outside Puyallup for about 10 years, said she volunteers as a gate greeter each year on Senior Tuesdays.
“We’ve enjoyed being recognized,” she said.