Coasting with Culture
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A Day at the Puyallup Spring Fair
April 16, 2015


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 





















 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

​​​Each year at the Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup (Pew-wall-up), Washington, they host a spring fair that is held for an extended weekend in April. The Spring Fair is a lighter version of the popular State Fair that takes place for most of the month of September. There are not quite as many animals, exhibitors or rides, yet the Spring Fair is a great way to bid farewell to the Pacific Northwest Winter, and say hello   to the longer, warmer days ahead. This particular visit I made at the 2015 edition was the first time that I had been to the fairgrounds since    the fall of 1997,  back when the Washington State Fair was still known as the Puyallup Fair. This particular day was perfect as the sun was out, and I brought my nephew Kris along for the ride!


Our visit would start with a walk towards the side opposite of the Midway area, and closer to the exhibition buildings. While the map below indicates that a good portions of the fairgrounds were closed off during the Spring Fair, there is certainly still much to see and do for a visit.   You can also see information about the Washington State Fair in September, such as their annual concert series, which always brings fairly   well known acts to perform. I am hoping to see Weird Al myself at the State Fair this fall as I have enjoyed his music for some time.


Most of the rides are found together in the main midway along the Western side of the fairgrounds, there is one ride that sits away from the rest of the midway, which is their 1917 Merry-Go-Round. Found in the Northeast corner, their Merry-Go-Round was created by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, also known for their work in the field of roller coasters as a producer of trains for wood coasters.


The fairgrounds is also home to many different kooky characters that you may run into at any point, including my personal favorite, the really tall grandma with an extra tall walker.


Adding to the kookiness of the fairgrounds is this structure that was devised as a sort of giant musical instrument for fairgoers to play. It utilized everyday items that create different sounds and tones to form one giant percussion instrument. Very popular with kids and kids at heart! Although if more cowbell is the only cure to Christopher Walken’s fever, then this might only help as a treatment to it. Still a lot of fun though.
 


The spring fair also includes unique shows, one of which is the always popular pig races.



​A special feature of the Spring Fair is a show called Dock Dogs, which was a competition for long distance jumping by different dogs. I have seen these kinds of contests on TV before, but this was the first time I saw it in person, and man can these dogs fly! This was Kris’s favorite show.
  


While we are talking about animals, I have always felt that the Puyallup Fair was great for the high number of animals that would be on site to see. Granted, the Spring Fair does not have quite the same abundance of animals, they still have some critters to see, along with educational displays about life on the farm, facts about the animals, and demonstrations such as sheering wool off of sheep.
 


​But of course, no fair is complete without a visit to the midway for some rides! Now the Washington State Fairgrounds is unique from others because of the fact that there are several rides that remain on site the entire year, including their three large roller coasters, Wildcat (Top left), Rainier Rush (Top Right) and Classic Coaster (Bottom middle).
  
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​Unfortunately the Wildcat was not open for the Spring Fair this year, so my chance to ride it again for the first time since my childhood will  have to wait until the Washington State Fair this fall. Kris and I did, however, get to experience the other two, so let’s start with Rainier Rush.


​Rainier Rush is a steel roller coaster from the company Top Fun. This coaster had previously been known as Typhoon when it operated at Santa’s Village in Dundee, IL and at the Los Angeles County Fair. It was opened on the site of the former Kersplash water coaster that once operated in Puyallup.
  


​Rainier Rush is a steel roller coaster from the company Top Fun. This coaster had previously been known as Typhoon when it operated at Santa’s Village in Dundee, IL and at the Los Angeles County Fair. It was opened on the site of the former Kersplash water coaster that once operated in Puyallup.


​The Rainier Rush features several turning drops and a loop that is at an incline. To be entirely honest, I wasn’t a really big fan of the coaster as it was rough to ride and will do a number to you because of the jerkiness. Kris on the other hand was a really big fan, and it was also the first coaster that he rode which went upside down! (I was proud of him for giving it a shot, although it took a little coaxing to get him to ride).
  

  
That brings us to our other coaster, the Classic Coaster!
  

  
Built and open in 1935, the Classic Coaster (Also previously known as the Coaster Thrill Ride, or Giant Coaster at times in the past), this coaster originally opened as a side-friction coaster, and would later be modified to accommodate the current trains in the 1940’s when the owner of the coaster purchased them from Oaks Amusement Park in Portland where they had been previously used.
   

  
So this was one of my first roller coasters, and to be honest I really did not remember a whole lot about what it was like to ride since it was
back in 1994, and between that time and now, I have been on over 400 more coasters since. Since that time, the fairgrounds made a great investment to preserve a part of their history and one of it’s most popular rides as they spent about 4-5 years replacing portions of the
coaster so that it could provide thrills for future generations. One of the neatest parts of the rebuilding project was the addition of a brick walkway where you could purchase a commemorative brick to be placed next to the coaster, with the proceeds going to the Washington
State Fair Foundation to help facilitate educational programs and provide funding for fairground improvements and preservation projects
like this one.


  
Along the walkway, you can also find these different signs that give historical information about the coaster itself. Overall, it really adds to the look of the area near the coaster, and gives it more of a permanent amusement park feel that is normally not a part of fairs as many rides at  fairs are part of traveling carnival companies.


As for the coaster itself, it was a lot of fun! Even though it had been rebuilt recently, it still had the feel of an older wooden coaster. It provided some great moments of airtime, such as after the double down drop from the lift as well as the drop after the first turn. The back seat gave a few great moments of feeling like you were being whipped around the ride, and the turns gave you a moment to enjoy the scenery of the fairgrounds. It made me very happy to have been able to get another ride on this classic after having gone so long since the last time, because now my memory of what the ride is will stick with me better. If you do go to the Washington State Fair, this coaster is a must! For those owho consider yourselves coaster enthusiasts, it would be worth a trip to Seattle in September and make your way down to this classic!


That concludes our visit to the 2015 Spring Fair at the Washington State Fairgrounds. I hope that if you find yourself in Western Washington  in April or September, you'll include a visit to the Fairgrounds in your plans.​ If you would like

 Take Care and Safe Travels!

 
The Traveling Mr. Taylor