Today we bring to you a special trip report from the Traveling Mr. Taylor’s visit to the 2015 Puyallup (Pew-wall-up) Spring Fair! This was the first time that I had been to the Puyallup Fairgrounds in about 16 or 17 years, and since the last time I had been here, for the Puyallup Fair in the fall of 1997. Now known as the Washington State Fair, the annual Fall event runs about three weeks in September, and they also host a long weekend event in April known as the Spring Fair. While the Spring Fair is a bit of a lighter version of the State Fair, it is still a great way to bid farewell to the the Pacific Northwest winter, and welcome the Spring (which, being in the Northwest, may not always mean the start of more sunny days right away due to our notoriously rainy weather). 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 as I have enjoyed his music for some time.
There is one ride that sits away from the rest of the midway which is their 1917 carousel, created by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, which is 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.
Of course fair also includes unique shows, such as a good old fashion pig race!
This year, they also had 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 also 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, this was only the Spring Fair, so there were not really a whole lot of the different types, they help to fill some of the space with educational displays of life on the farm, and different aspects of the animals, such as demonstrations of wool sheering for sheep.
But of course, no fair is complete without a visit to the midway for some rides! Now the Puyallup 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. They include the Wildcat (Top left), the Rainier Rush (Top Right) and the Classic Coaster (Bottom middle).
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.
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!
So that is going to wrap up this trip report of the Traveling Mr. Taylor. I hope you all enjoyed it and that you will come back again for my reports in the future. If you find yourself in the Pacific Northwest in April or September and the fair is going, I highly recommend that you visit.
Take Care and Safe Travels!
“The Traveling Mr. Taylor