On the hunt for elephant ears, scones and funnel cake, we headed to the Washington State Spring Fair. We enjoyed pig races, fair food, entertainment, a farm animal tour, rides and games. You can bring a carload of family and friends — everyone should be buckled in safely — to enjoy this unique experience. This year’s event runs Wednesday through Sunday, April 7 to 11 and 14 to 18.
Cost, tickets and the drive over
In the before times, going to the fair was never a cheap treat. This year’s drive-thru experience is no different. A carload of people costs $30 for timed entry and $50 for tickets that allow a group to enter, on one day, at any time the fair is open. Included in this initial price is a step-out activity: DockDogs and the Racing Pigs.
You begin your drive-thru at one of these experiences, heading over to different parts of the park to step out of your vehicle to watch a 15 to 20 minute show featuring dogs who do amazing tricks or pigs who race around a track. If you don’t want to exit your vehicle, you can play bingo at a space designated for this drive-in experience.
The drive over to Puyallup from the Eastside took well over an hour because of traffic and several accidents along the way. We were late to our entry time and had a few minutes to spare before our Racing Pigs experience started. Leave yourself enough time to get to the Washington State Spring Fair early, see your chosen experience, enjoy your treats and head to the theme park.
Add-ons: Fun buckets and a monster truck
After choosing the date, time and experience, you have the option of purchasing a fun bucket ($12 each or $20 for two). The fun bucket includes a beach ball, a coloring book with crayons, a pinwheel, bubbles and a few other small items good for ages 2 to 8. Another experience is also offered: the chance to ride atop a monster truck ($10 per person). The website says that the monster truck experience is almost sold out, so if your little one’s heart is set on riding this big wheeler, act fast!
Games and rides
What’s a fair without rides and games? Purchase ticket packages, in advance, for a chance to enter SillyVille (for ages 3-7 ) or ThrillVille (for ages 8 and up). One card gets you seven tickets (for $24.50) to use at one theme park. Parents, be sure to purchase your own tickets, especially if you plan to sit with your kids on the rides. Limited ticket booths are available at each theme park to purchase individual tickets (2 tickets for $7), in case you run out or want to do more rides.
You can also purchase these tickets separately without the drive-thru experience.
The Racing Pigs experience
We got to the Washington State Spring Fair on a gloomy and drizzly afternoon on Wednesday. Greeted by masked men and women at the entrance, I was handed a map, our fun baskets and some information about the vendors and attractions. Our first stop was the Racing Pigs experience. Parking in a small lot, we masked up and exited our car. We entered a warehouse-type building. The large garage doors were open, providing enough circulation to not have to worry about COVID safety. Every group stayed 6 feet apart. We didn’t feel like there were many people sitting on the bleachers and felt very safe.
After a brief introduction to the show, we called out to the pigs. “Sooey!” my kids screamed and giggled. The pigs were introduced to the crowd and before you knew it, they were off! Four pigs raced around the track, one gaining on another until the end of the race was called. We rooted for pig number 3 the whole time! The show was over in less than 20 minutes.
“They were so cute!” and “I really like the one named Wilbur!” were some of the comments my kids made on the way back to the car.
The drive-thru experience
We piled back into the car and slowly made our way to other parts of the park. I found it difficult to use the paper map, navigate the alleyways and determine where to find the next destination. There were not many signs indicating a path or what areas were one-way. We stopped several times to ask for directions and still made wrong turns. Eventually, we made our way through the whole park, stopping to see each experience, admiring the floats, taking pictures of the animal-shape trees and opening our windows to collect daffodils from costumed queens and princesses.
We stopped to see an Elvis impersonator riding a bicycle/unicycle. He asked us if we wanted to see him “pop a wheelie.” (He basically lifted the front wheel off of his bike and held it up.) We laughed and laughed, while he finished his act with, ”Thank you, thank you very much,” in an Elvis Presley drawl.
When you’re driving, you can follow the cars ahead of you, snaking your way around the park, or download the map on your phone for a better navigation experience. Pro tip: Bring extra blankets for the people in the back and wear a raincoat if it’s pouring. Opening and closing the windows make for a cold and wet ride.
The reptile and farm experience
“WHOA! That’s a huge snake!” my older son yells. One of the highlights of the drive-thru was going into an exhibit filled with reptiles. Snakes, turtles, lizards and even an alligator were there! We stayed in the car, looping our way behind other cars, slowly viewing each animal. At one point, when we were fully stopped, my children unbuckled so they could take a better look at the animals.
Buckled back in, safe and secure, we drove over to the farm exhibit. Locked in small pens, a variety of animals were tucked away under cover. It’s another drive-thru experience, and we slowly moved our way along the perimeter of the tent. Golden pheasants, peacocks, cows, mules, llamas, pigs and so many more animals lay chewing on hay or moving from corner to corner in their spaces. Posted outside the tent walls were facts and puzzles that my kids tried to solve, which kept them occupied while the rain dribbled in through our windows.
Fair food, treats and space to eat
Fair food is a wonderful indulgence. My kids had their heart set on fried, sugary breads, while I wanted to try something new, like the soft-serve Dole whip, a pineapple ice cream treat. With more than ten vendors open at the park, we found the most popular treats at every corner. The famous Fisher Scones vendor was there too! We purchased a baker’s dozen ($20 per dozen) to share with neighbors and friends back at home.
With all this warm food coming out, it was difficult to find a space to stop the car and enjoy our treats without having to find a parking lot. We stopped in a vacant space to share our foods, but were quickly asked to keep the area clear.
Our final stop was SillyVille, a small theme park that’s great for young children. My kids enjoyed the few games that were there (four to choose from) and some of the rides (six to choose from). Each game or ride was worth one ticket. Swinging rides, a mini train and a gentle roller coaster held squealing children while they went around and around in circles.
The final ride
Hands full with stuffed animals, we ended our day on the iconic Ferris wheel. High above the park, we waved to the things below. Taking pictures and convincing ourselves that we weren’t afraid of heights, we sat on the wet seats, holding our breath and we made our way down to the ground. After it stopped, we were tired and full from all our treats, and we made our way out of the fair.
“I’m kinda sad that we’re leaving here and won’t be back,” said my older son. “Next time I want to go to the bigger, scarier rides [at ThrillVille].”
A trip back to the fair is always a possibility. We had a nice time experiencing this new kind of fair. Above all else, we were thrilled to share in this Washington tradition.
If you go …
The Washington State Spring Fair is located at 110 9th Ave. SW, Puyallup.
Purchase tickets in advance for entry, games and rides.
Bring your credit card to make purchases. No cash will be taken.
Download the map ahead of time to navigate the park.
The theme parks are stroller-friendly. Dress for the weather.