I Did the Puyallup: Impressions from the Washington State Fair

Before last week, I had never been to a state fair.

Is that really so weird, I ask you? Because my husband (from New Jersey) and my best friend (from Washington State) both seemed to think it was really weird.

It’s not that I have anything against them, I just grew up in DC, the only non-state in the nation so of course we didn’t have a state fair. Virginia does have a state fair which is apparently in Caroline County, which to be honest, I have no idea where that is. I grew up on the Arlington County Fair with it’s pupusa stands and Unitarian church booths, but no, I’ve never managed to make it to a state fair.

Until now that is! A couple of weeks ago we all piled in a rental car and drove south to Puyallup, Washington and the Washington State Fair.

It was everything I dreamed of and more. The Washington State Fair is one of the top ten biggest state fairs in the country and it showed: the scope of the place was enormous. Over 160 acres of amusement park rides, giant barns and shopping pavilions. Honestly, we barely scratched the surface in our afternoon of wandering (it was also the hottest day of the Seattle summer, well over 90, which slowed us down a bit).

So what are state fairs all about?

Fried Food

My one real impression of State Fair’s going in was that they were a great place to sample fried foods. Unfortunately the stand pictured above was out of nearly everything. I very much wanted to sample a fried s’more- for you know, the blog, but I had to settle for the incredibly popular and ubiquitous elephant ears: fried dough covered in butter and sugar or raspberry jam. Nom.


About half the fairgrounds was taken up with barn after barn of various livestock. One was dedicated to cows, another to pigs, another to “animals from around the world” (mostly foreign looking cows and some goats), and half a dozen other animal barns including a kind of unsettling 4-H Cat Barn where the children displayed their cats as the living centerpieces of weird dioramas.


We never made it close to them, but they were definitely there.

(Normal Sized Vegetables)

My other state fair idea was that there would be tons of giant vegetables. You know, zucchini baseball bats and eggplants the size of cars. There were a couple fairly massive pumpkins on display, but the produce section seemed to be more about vegetable arrangements than size. Various businesses arranged massive amounts of produce into dioramas and visitors voted on the winners. Weird, but kind of neat.

Legit terrifying scarecrow

Probably a Bunch of Other Stuff

There was an enormous shopping center we never set foot in, and a dairy that we breezed through (free chocolate milk!). In retrospect we probably missed a lot. It was just a taste. A good taste. Next year maybe I’ll see more (and get there early enough to have a damn fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich).

Have you ever been to a state fair?

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6 thoughts on “I Did the Puyallup: Impressions from the Washington State Fair”

  1. Nope, not having been to any state fairs is really okay. Well, for me. I haven’t been in one too!

    Nice pictures. That enormous pumpkin is cool. I might consider going to state fairs when I go traveling since it looks like an fun and exciting event.

  2. I’ve never been to a State Fair, but I’ve been to the CNE in Toronto which seems a lot like this! Lots of weird fried food, a midway, games, and lots of other things to see. Didn’t get the chance to go this year, but I went a couple of years ago and it was a lot of fun!

  3. Hate to break it to you, but the deep fried PB&J is not all it’s cracked up to be. Deep fried Oreos, on the other hand…. YUM!

    I’ve never been to the Ohio State Fair – but mostly because the largest county fair in the US has always been right in my backyard every year. 🙂

  4. I’ve never been to a State Fair, but I would absolutely love to go! We have a similar one in Toronto called the CNE (Canada’s National Exhibition), but I don’t think it even compares to the State Fair the US has! Ah!! Time to plan it for next summer!

  5. I’d go just for those elephant ears alone. My home county in the UK has an annual fair close to my hometown, but I’ve only been once and don’t remember it. Pretty sure there were no fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, though :'(

  6. I went to the biggest state fair of them all: Texas. Fried weird food was definitely the name of the game – I’m talking fried beer, fried guacamole and fried peanut butter, jelly and banana sandwiches. That food plus rollercoasters seems like quite a strange combination…

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