Get a head start on summer fair fun at a lower key, spring version of the Washington State Fair this April 20-23, with rides, music, pig racing, performing dogs, a demolition derby and more.
To help families plan, we scoured information about the Washington State Fair to find the newest, most affordable and most fun activities for families. Here's what we found. (Note: Photos by Patrick Hagerty.)
1. The Spring Fair is free on Thursday for kids
On Thursday, April 20, kids 0–18 receive free gate admission. A donation of non-perishable food for the food drive is recommended. Hours are 2-10 p.m. on opening day.
Another great deal is free parking throughout the Fair. Find more on the deals page.
2. The Spring Fair is more like an old-school county fair
The Spring Fair has a country fair vibe, and offers lots of interactive fun for younger families. KidZone is dedicated to the younger crowd; and there are many other family-friendly activities, from free face-painting to fun on the farm.
While all of the classic fair favorites (food, rides, vendors, animals, free stages) will be on display, the Spring Fair offers its own delights including pig racing, the Creative Kids Exhibit and the Northwest Junior Livestock Show and Sale.
3. There's something new every year
Families should be especially excited about some of the new activities and shows this year, including:
Storybook Village: Enter the world of make-believe as you journey through a storybook land of classic fables. FREE with Fair admission. Daily, at Red Gate Building
Daredevil High Dive Show: Daredevil firemen help a frantic woman who loses her baby in a show with comedy dives, Olympic style dives, a high dive and a fire dive. FREE with Fair admission. Midway Blvd.
Pirate Parrot Patrol: Learn all about parrots from, yes, pirates. FREE with Fair admission. Various times, Coca-Cola Stage
Laser Show: This 30-minute spectacle is at 8 and 9 p.m. on Thursday through Saturday. FREE with Fair admission. Various times, Red Gate area
4. Free fun abounds (once you pay the admission fee)
Sure, you can spend all your time on the rides or Demolition Derby, but if you want to save your pennies, there are scores of activities that don't cost a dime after you spring on the admission fee (unless, of course, you visit on April 20). Below are a few examples.
Fun on the Farm: With farm activities, agriculture displays and a petting zoo, the Farm is always a hit. Kids can dig and plant potatoes, play in the corn box and get photos in the Barnyard Cutout Photo Opp. Location: Centennial Building
DockDogs: Who can resist pooches dashing down a 40-foot canine runway and jumping headlong into a large portable swimming pool. Follow them to the finals. Location: Inside Red Gate
Monster truck rides: For $8 a ride, kids can get a taste of what it's like to ride in a big old monster truck. Thursday–Saturday. Location: Grandstand.
Creative Kids Exhibit: This exhibit showcases all kinds of talent from kids, including art baking, crafts, photography and more. Location: Pavilion, first floor
Fireworks: If your kids can stay up a bit late, bring them to the the Fireworks Spectacular on Friday and Saturday nights. Starts at approximately 9 p.m.
5. Plan ahead for some events
If you want to attend some of the motorsports fun, including the Monster Truck Show on Friday and Slamfest Demolition Derby on Saturday and Sunday, purchase tickets ahead of time as they can sell out (also, you save by buying early).
Another event that's often standing-room only: Swifty Swine Racing Pigs. There are multiple races a day, but arrive early to secure a spot. Location: Fountain Plaza