What is officially known as the Western Washington Fair, most people know it as simply, The Puyallup (is that catchy little slogan of: Do the Puyallup, ringing in your head, yet?). Not only is the Puyallup Fair the largest event in Washington State, but it is also one of the top ten largest fairs in the nation. Anyone who has paid a visit to this annual fair can tell you that it is packed full of fun, animals, delicious food and family-friendly events. With so much happening at The Puyallup, we put together 10 insider tips that will make your family’s visit to this enormous fair totally awesome.

Insider Tip #1: Make a plan before you go.
This may be a no brainer, but when it comes to this gigantic fair, it really pays off to do a little research before you head to Puyallup. The Puyallup Fair’s website is quite informative, plus you can keep up with their Facebook and Twitter accounts for the most up-to-date info about what’s hot and happening this year.

Insider Tip #2: Save your scone money.
There are a million and one ways to save a buck or two on your trip to the fair. If you can, go to the fair on BECU Kids Free Weekend, which for the 2011 Fair is September 10 – 11. You will need to print a coupon from the BECU website to take advantage of free admission. If you can plan in advance, Fred Meyer locations have a great deal on a Family Ticket Package that even includes money for food. Read more about it and all of the other ways to save on tickets on the Fair website.

Insider Tip #3: Be prepared for the drive.
On a normal, non-fair day, it takes about 45-minutes to get from Seattle to Puyallup, but when the entire state is also traveling to the fair grounds, traffic can start to back up, particularly if you go in the evening at the height of rush hour. Be prepared in the car with snacks, a portable DVD player and lots of patience! Best way to avoid traffic – head to the fair when they first open in the morning (gates open at 10:00 am). 

Insider Tip #4: What you need to know about parking.
The best suggestion we can make for parking at the Fair is to use the lots closest to the admissions gates. It will cost you $10-12 to park there, but it’s well worth it when it’s time to leave to be able to zip right out to the car. You can find parking in the neighborhoods around the fairgrounds for less – sometimes around $5 – but just make sure it’s a legit place to park before handing your cash over to the attendant!

Insider Tip #5: To bring and not to bring.
Remember that double-stroller that’s been taking up room in your garage? Now is the perfect time to bring it out! Load it up with baby wipes for sticky cotton candy fingers, hand sanitizer for after the petting zoo, a sweatshirt for when it gets cool, sunscreen, and extra clothes. We suggest tennis shoes with socks instead of sandals – better for going on rides and better for keeping layers of dust off everyone’s feet. 

Insider Tip #6: So much food and so little time.
There is so much food at the fair. In fact, some people come here JUST for the food! But, what do you get for your little ones? For pint-sized portions (and prices to match), visit the children’s area, SillyVille located between the green gate and the purple gate at the Fair. And of course, you don’t want to miss the Fair Scones – you can get them in a few different spots around the Fair including the Market Building and Restaurant Building. Don’t forget to pick up a dozen to take home with you for breakfast tomorrow morning! Mmmm! 

Insider Tip #7: Rodeo – yes or no?
One of the hottest attractions at the Puyallup Fair is the rodeo! This year, the rodeo takes place at the beginning of the fair, September 9 – 11. If you want to take your little cowpoke to see the rodeo, we suggest taking them to the first session on Friday, September 9 at 1:00 pm – it will be less crowded and the tickets are just $5.00. There’s also a rodeo parade in downtown Puyallup that morning at 10:00 am – a fun site for animal lovers to see the cows, horses and drill teams march down the street!

Insider Tip #8: This is their chance to ride a sheep.
We’re even giggling as we tell you this, because really, this event is so entertaining. The Mutton Bustin’ is a Puyallup Fair tradition where kids ages 3 – 6 (and under 60 pounds) are given the chance to participate in their own rodeo… riding sheep! Anyone can participate and protective gear is provided. You can read more about the details and schedule online. Really – are you laughing right now too? 

Insider Tip #9: Let’s talk about the rides.
In all honesty, if you can get away with skipping the rides at the fair, do it. Most of the attractions for little ones are in SillyVille, so if you can, just breeze on by! If they do want to give them a try, buy some single tickets to ensure that they’re up for the rides before investing in a Dizzy Pass. Mom and Dad ride free on most rides with the littlest fair go-ers, so feel free to join them if they’re feeling nervous.

Insider Tip #10: Not to be missed.
There is so much to do at the Puyallup Fair that a list of what not to miss could go on for miles. Some cool stuff that you should put at the top of your must-see list are the gigantic pumpkins growing near SillyVille, the awesome fishing pond that’s filled with thousands of rainbow trout, free face painting in the building between SillyVille and the Fair Farm (beware of a long line!) and the amazing acrobatic aerial show that takes place at 2:00 pm, 4:00 pm, and 6:00 pm daily at the Fair.

110 9th Avenue SW
Puyallup , Wa

September 9-25, 2011
Sunday – Thursday: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
Friday – Saturday: 10:00 am – 11:00 pm

Adults: $11
Students (6-18): $9
Seniors (62+): $9
Five & under: Free

If the Puyallup Fair is part of your family’s summer traditions, tell us your best insider tips! We promise to keep them to ourselves!

– Katie Kavulla

Photo credit: Patrick Hagerty, via The Puyallup Fair