Updated for 2018!
How to Save Money When You Take The Kids to the Puyallup Fair
It’s fair time! Yes, already! The Washington State Fair (We still call it The Puyallup at our house) now begins Labor Day weekend.
This post has my best bets if you’re looking to do the fair on a budget, PLUS the scoop on what’s new for kids at the fair this year!
Best Deal On Admission This year, there are TWO chances to get everyone in the fair for free
You can go the morning the fair opens, and get in free with a canned food donation. Update-This has now passed, but there is a second chance to get into the Fair free
If You Don’t Have to Work or Go To School Friday Morning the 7th: You can go down and watch the cattle parade (super fun), and then continue on into the fair between 10:30AM-12:30 and get free admission with a school supply donation. If you’re early risers, you can even stop by Pioneer Park (it’s the one by the downtown library) and get breakfast first for just 2.00 between 8-10.00! If you have little kids, this is an awesome deal, and once you’re in the gates there is a ton they can do for free. More info. on the cattle drive and parade is here
Best Deal On Rides
Rides will dramatically increase the cost of your fair trip. If your kids want to do more than a couple, your best option is probably to buy a Dizzy Pass. The Dizzy Pass gets you unlimited rides (with a couple of exceptions) and two games. These aren’t cheap-at all- but will pay for themselves quickly. Another option is to buy a ride and game fun card. You can see all the rides deals here.
Best Deal if You’re a Military Family
Go Mondays for free admission for active and retired members of the military and their dependents. You will need to show a valid photo id at the turnstile. Read the details here.
Best Deal Otherwise
There are a number of coupons and deals for the Fair. Which one is best, depends on what you value most in your fair going and when you want to make your trip.
- Love rides? If your idea of a good time is whirling and twirling, your best bet is to get a Dizzy Pass. See the section above for more on that.
- Got Kids? School age kids will receive free coupons through their school. Kids can also get in free all Labor Day weekend, and they don’t need a ticket or a coupon! Kids 5 and under are always free.
- Just need a ticket? If you’re a Pierce County resident you can get 2-for-1 admission on Thursdays. Take your coupon to any ticket booth to purchase one ticket and a friend gets a complimentary ticket. Offer valid Sept. 6, 13 & 20. Download & print coupon (pdf).
- . You can also save a few dollars by purchasing in advance online or at one of several ticket outlets. Go here for all your admission deals.
- On a budget? There are actually tons of things to do at the fair for free. Pay for the grown-ups to get in, use the kids’ free coupons, and then head to the exhibit halls for all kinds of free things to see and do (more on those below). My advice to make this work is to discuss the expectations before hand, and maybe have an alternative for after-like an evening of free fair fun ending with a trip to your favorite frozen yogurt place. You can use the Fair Planner along with the daily schedule to figure out what to hit.
There should be a bogo admission coupon in the Entertainment Book, but I don’t have one handy. If you do, leave a comment!
Where to Park
If you want to drive yourself, generally speaking, the further out you park, the cheaper it gets. Official fair parking in their lots is 10.00 on weekdays and 15.00 on weekends. If you’re patient, you can circle until you find a street space for free. We like to park at the First Christian Church parking lot. Friendly folks, a hop and a skip away, and you get in and out privileges for your 15.00. I also recommend Kalles Junior High. Tip: You can also sometimes score free street parking near Kalles.
Food: If you can survive without fair goodies, you’ll save a bundle. I’ll be springing for the Fisher Scone ice cream. It’s a little cup sized serving, but it’s delicious and only 2.00. You can’t get much food at the fair for 2.00!
What to do
What to do once you’re in the fair? Don’t limit yourself to the Midway. Lots of the best fair fun is free!
A few favorites that I consider hidden gems:
- The Northwest Outdoors Hall-lots of free activities.
- The Fred Oldfield Center by the Red Gate; check out the painted rock trading area!
- The firefighters and the State Patrol have exhibits and fun.
- The petting zoo (Free)!
- Milk samples and, “Cow,” milking in the dairy barn (Free)!
- Checking out the Hobby Hall and the Lego area (Free)
- And bonus……Check out the penny pressing in SillyVille. It will cost you .50, but that’s about the cheapest souvenir you’ll find!
What to skip? This is just me talking, but I’d skip the games. They’re super hard to win, expensive, and can easily lead to a bummed out kiddo. I’d rather spend that money on a sure thing-like scones.
We’re most excited for the new exhibit The Farm at SillyVille.
NEW! The Farm at SillyVille, Presented by Safeway. It’s a 1.5 acre sized space where kiddos get to do all kinds of hands-on, “Farming,” activities. It looks super cute!
Another new attraction is the World’s Biggest Bounce House, which will be there the 6th-9th. This is an add on attraction and costs 5.00 per interval, But this is a lot cheaper than tickets to this attraction normally cost, and it does look way cool! It’s near the giant slide. Kiddos must be 5 years old and 3 ft. tall.
Fun Things Coming Back
In addition to all the traditional favorites, be sure to mark the calendar for these returning attractions
Fireworks Spectacular – Sept. 7, 14, 21 10PM
Animals of the World – Sept. 6-12 Exotic animals from around the world are on display in M Barn at the Animals of the World exhibit.
Find yaks, zebras, and more in Barn M.
Discover the Dinosaurs is also back. I’ll be honest: I do not think this is amazing, BUT it is super similar to other dinosaur events that come through town, and while it will cost you 7.00, that’s less than those events by a bunch. I wouldn’t do it if your kid isn’t way into dinosaurs, but if yours is, go for it.
Phew! It’s a bit of work wading through fair options, and this post didn’t begin to cover them all, but hopefully it helped!
I would LOVE for you to leave a comment with your favorite fair going tips. I know others would appreciate ’em, especially newbies! Oh, and Puyallup friends-put a sticky note somewhere so you don’t forget it’s fair time and get stuck on Meridian (Just me?).
Post-Labor Day Hours
Mon., Wed., Thurs. 10:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Fri. 10:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Sat. 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Sun. 9:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
CLOSED EVERY TUESDAY AND WED., SEPT. 5
Washington State Fair Events Center
110 9th Avenue SW
Puyallup, WA 98371