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Puyallup Fair: Big and traditional

4:23 pm September 6th, 2012

The Puyallup Fair, befitting its reputation as the largest single event in Washington, one of the biggest fairs in the world and one of the oldest (it’s been around since 1900), will again be a combination of tradition and new things to see and do during its 17-day run that starts Friday.

The tradition cattle drive and rodeo parade that signals the start of the fair will be held Friday at 10 a.m. on Meridian Street in downtown Puyallup. Cattle, draft horse teams, marching bands, equestrian drill teams and costumed characters will sashay their way to the fairgrounds. From 8 to 10, parade watchers can eat a rodeo breakfast for $2 at Pioneer Park’s Pavilion, across from Puyallup City Hall.

Admission to the fair on opening day will be free from 9 a.m. to noon with a donation of non-perishable food for the Puyallup Food Bank.

Inside the gates, fairgoers will find all the traditional displays and exhibits of animals, artwork, farm produce and hobbies, fireworks shows on Friday nights at 10, carnival rides and games, and equally traditional food such as scones.

They crowds also will find new features, including:

• Rainforest Adventure exhibit, free daily. Walk through and experience an authentic tropical rainforest atmosphere, complete with toucans, anacondas, snapping turtles and geckos. Naturalists and interpreters will explain the challenges facing the ecological wonders.

• Our Body: The Universe Within. Scheduled for every day of the fair except the first one, the exhibit consists of actual human bodies and organs. Fair officials said it gives a true look at the inner workings of the human body, plus tips for healthy living. Admission will cost $7 for adults and children over the age of 5.

• Happy Hour Thursdays (Sept. 13 and 20). College will be admitted to the fair for $7 after 7 p.m.

Free musical entertainment will include performances by The Shoppe Sept. 17-23 at noon, 3 and 6 p.m. From 1978 to 1998, the group drew standing-room only crowds, and their fans have clamored for a reunion, fair officials said.

• A zip line (daily). From the top of a 28-foot tower, riders strapped into a full body harness will fly 130 feet along the cable for $10, then again for $5 if they’re still wearing the harness and want another ride.

Top-name entertainment for the Columbia Bank Concert Series includes Tim McGraw, Jeff Dunham, Enrique Iglesias, Big Time Rush, and Jackie Evancho with the Tacoma Symphony. Tickets are on sale at www.thefair.com/concerts.

Free entertainment on stages will include The Shoppe, a musical group that drew standing-room-only audiences from 1978 to 1998 and is back by popular demand, fair officials said. Strolling entertainers will feature something for all ages, as well.

Other attractions will include Latino music during Fiestas Patrias Sept. 15-16, and the Puyallup Pro Rodeo Sept. 7-9, with competitors viewing for the national finals.

Besides the free opening-day admission in exchange for food donations, free admission will be offered for kids Sept. 8-9 on BECU Free Kids’ Weekend (download a coupon at becu.org/freekids) and for active, reserve and retired military and National Guard members and their dependents on Military Mondays Sept. 10 and 17 (with valid military ID.

The rest of the time, gate admission will cost $12.50 for adults, $9 for children 6 to 18 years old, and $9 for seniors 62 and up. Kids 5 and under get in free.

Discounted admission tickets are available through Sept. 23 at participating Walgreens and Safeway stores in western Washington, while supplies last, fair officials said.

The fair runs through Sept. 23. More information is available at www.thefair.com or by texting “FAIR” to 75868.

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