PUYALLUP—The Washington State Fair’s 2022 season came to a close Sunday, September 25 just a week before the fairgrounds reopened for Oktoberfest.
The Washington State Fair, formerly the Puyallup Fair, is the largest annual single attraction in Washington State and one of the top ten largest fairs in the country attracting more than 1 million visitors a year since 1980.
Throughout the 160-acre Puyallup fairgrounds – with buildings and land valued at $54 million – attendees can compete in carnival games for the biggest prize, seek out an adrenaline rush on one of its many rides, shop for goods from hundreds of vendors, catch a concert, rodeo, comedy or hypnotist show, peruse art and craft exhibits, try their luck at Bingo, drop their jaws at impressive agricultural feats and awe-inspiring animals, crack open a cold one in the beer gardens, and of course fill up on delicious food.
This year marked the state fair’s 116th year in operation, only closing twice since opening in 1900 – once in 1941 through 1946 for World War II and the other in 2020 for the COVID-19 pandemic. This year was the fair’s biggest year yet adding a Family Fun Stage, Fair History Experience, Cattle Education Exhibit, and a Biggest Little Livestock show.
The Washington State Fair began in 1900 under the name the Puyallup Valley Fair, reeling in almost 6,000 families from October 4 through 6. In 1913 the fair was renamed the Western Washington Fair but was referred to colloquially as “The Puyallup Fair” until it formally adopted the title in 2006. Its current name, The Washington State Fair, was coined in 2013 although many still refer to the event as the “Puyallup Fair” to differentiate it from the other fairs across the state including Snohomish County’s own Evergreen State Fair, which is about a third the size of Puyallup’s fair in size and attendance.
When the fair closed during World War II in 1941 it was occupied by the U.S. Army 943rd Signal Service Battalion until being transferred to Fort Lewis. The fairgrounds also have a dark history when, during the war, they served as the site of Camp Harmony – a concentration camp for Japanese Americans – until the camp was torn down in 1942.
The fair’s cancelled 2020 season was the first edition of the fair to be cancelled since the war and it returned in 2021 with masking requirements and limited capacity, drawing in 816,000 total attendees – a 20% decrease from previous years. 2022 was the fair’s first year back to full capacity since reopening.
Although the fair came to close at the end of September just a week later, on October 7, the fairground reopened for a different type of event: Oktoberfest Northwest. This Munich-style celebration is one of the largest Oktoberfest celebrations in the state featuring authentic German food, German beers poured in steins, Weiner Dog races, Bavarian Bier-lympics, live music, and an exclusive Hammerschlagen Tournament of Champions. The event runs from October 7 through 9 and tickets range from $7.50 to $17.50 depending on day.
Later in the year, the fairgrounds will also host a Holiday Magic event December 1 through 23, with ice skating, magical lights, interactive exhibits, and festive food and drink.