Nicholas Claeys of Puyallup ventured from the sidewalk into the middle of South Meridian Street on Friday, watching for signs the Western Rodeo Parade & Cattle Drive was about to start.
The 5-year-old was feeling too shy to say what he most looked forward to during the event that kicks off the Puyallup Fair.
“I think he likes the pretty girls,” teased family friend Naomi Ward, 50, of Parkland.
There were other things to see, too – from marching bands, tractors and stagecoaches to the 40 head of cattle thundering down the street in a drive toward the fairgrounds.
The cattle, herded by cowboys on horseback, are perennial crowd-pleasers and sometimes even steal the show. Last year, some animals left the parade route and went into a nearby convenience store through the automatic doors.
Gloria Johanson took that bovine unpredictability into consideration as she staked out a spot to watch the parade.
She stood behind a row of people on the sidewalk at Pioneer Park, “so if the cows get out, they get them first,” she said with a laugh.
The Puyallup woman brought her daughter Autumn, 9, making the event a family affair. Others did the same.
Paula Perry, 33, of Tacoma came with her son, her niece and other relatives.
“We just spend time together. The kids enjoy it,” she said.
The family comes to the fair every year, she said.
Twins Dana and Danielle Klemkow, 26, of Auburn also are regulars. They used to show sheep and goats when they were children and now enjoy being spectators and sampling the fair food, they said as they waited along Meridian for the parade to start.
Ken Bradford and Keith Peterson aren’t family; they’re friends in a car club together. But they’ve come to the parade the last few years to soak up the fun.
“It’s so relaxed,” said Peterson, 72, of Edgewood, lounging in a camping chair set up near the start of the parade.
“It’s a nice local event for the community,” said Bradford, 66, of Tacoma.
The fair, which lasts through Sept. 26, draws more than 1.1 million people on average during its 17-day run. Today, it’s open 10 a.m.-11 p.m.
As the parade wound down Friday, Nicholas Claeys sat with his grandmother Kathy Prezbindowski, 67, of Puyallup. The marching bands, stagecoaches and animals already had passed on their way to the fairgrounds.
Nicholas wasn’t feeling shy anymore. And no, it wasn’t the pretty girls that caught his eye after all.
“I liked the cows!” he said.
Sara Schilling: 253-552-7058 firstname.lastname@example.org