#Throwback Thursday: Washington State Fair Way Back When

From 1900 to 2014, the state fair tradition lives on in Washington
| Updated: November 27, 2018
 
 
"The Valley Fair" as it was formerly called started in the fall of 1900 as a means to help local agricultural and dairy farmers, miners, and manufacturers exhibit and sell their products in a community setting. The first fair took place on October 4th, 1900 and was only a three-day event. Admission for the whole event was just $1 per family! How times have changed. Similar to today, the vendors with their exhibits or goods built wooden sheds which were using surplus wood from the 10-foot fence built to house the fair. 
As years passed, the fair slowly, but steadily became the largest single attraction in Washington state. The length of the event was increased to 4 days in 1901 and then 6 days in 1905. The fairgrounds also became larger every year. The name was changed to the "Western Washington Fair" in 1913. Amongst all the changes, the fair's slogan "Do The Puyallup" has held strong all the way through. 

It's time for The Washington State Fair! From fried food to ferris wheel rides, it's going to be a good time. "The Valley Fair," as it was formerly called, started in the fall of 1900 as a means to help local agricultural and dairy farmers, miners and manufacturers exhibit and sell their products in a community setting. The first fair took place on October 4, 1900 and was only a three-day event. Admission for the whole event was just $1 per family. My, how times have changed. Similar to today, the vendors exhibited out of wooden sheds, but in the 1900s those sheds were constructed using surplus wood from the 10-foot fence that surrounded the fair. 


Opening day at the Valley Fair, October 4, 1900
Photo Courtesy of Washington State Fair Staff


Restaurant Row at the Valley Fair, 1908
Photo Courtesy of Washington State Fair Staff

Through increased community support, the length of the event was increased to four days in 1901 and then six days in 1905. The name was changed to the "Western Washington Fair" in 1913, but the slogan "Do The Puyallup" sustained and is still used today, even despite last year's name change. The fairgrounds also became larger every year with more activities, delicious food and shows that increased in complexity. In fact, even during the 1930s when The Great Depression was doing a number on the rest of the country, the fair was not significantly affected. Rides and activities during that time were the best they had ever been including a roller-coaster, a merry-go-round, ferris wheels, animal shows and a dance hall. In 1933, the Rodeo was introduced, which continues to be a rollicking good time even today.

Devouring cotton candy in 1924, still a fair favorite today
Photo Courtesy of Washington State Fair Staff

 

Girl with pig, 1928
Photo Courtesy of Washington State Fair Staff


Girls sharing ice-cream, 1930
Photo Courtesy of Washington State Fair Staff

The Washington State Fair has become a community gathering spot full of unique, fried and finger-lickingly good local food, all levels of rides (think everything from slow to turn-you-upside-down thrilling), shows and expos. It's a place where people of all ages and stages can have a great time.

It's hosted many a celeb, too: Buck Owens and Frank Sinatra Jr. in the '60s to more recently, Alanis Morrisett, James Taylor, Leann Rimes. This year expect Jeff Dunham, Fall Out Boy, Amy Grant and Keith Urban. Also on tap this year is a hypnotist, a psychic, a circus adventure, jugglers, a photo show, a quilting exhibit, caricature artists, sculptors, a salsa showdown, square dancers and comedy shows. Like I said, something for everyone.

I went last night and had a blast, ate a lot, and got my face sculpted out of porcelain clay. Can't beat that! Take some time out this week or next week to check out this long standing tradition, you'll have yourself a pretty dandy time. Go here for all the details.

 

Related Content

Longtime SAL executive Rebecca Hoogs takes over for Ruth Dickey

Longtime SAL executive Rebecca Hoogs takes over for Ruth Dickey

A new public art installation celebrates the Central area’s history and rich African American heritage.

Seattle artists reflect on the 20-year anniversary of 9/11

Carlos Fernandez and Drew Highlands are in the thick of the city's film scene.