State Fair back with masks everywhere all the time

Aug 31st, 2021 | By | Category: News

After 80 consecutive years of being an annual event, the Washington State Fair in Puyallup was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. But it’s back this year, though still dealing with the pandemic like everything and everyone else.

Scheduled for Sept. 3-26 (except Tuesdays and Sept. 8, when it will be closed), the fair—in cooperation with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department—will take additional steps to prevent and limit the spread of COVID-19, including requiring all visitors to wear masks at all times indoors and outdoors while at the fairgrounds.

With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations at an all-time high in Pierce County, the local healthcare systems are at a critical stage and don’t have capacity for an influx of COVID patients, the Health Department said in an announcement Aug. 31. Officials said there will be “additional personnel on-site (at the fair) to help alleviate that stress.”

The mask requirement is in the form of a health order issued by the Health Department’s director, Dr. Anthony L-T Chen.

Other steps that authorities said the fair will take to guard against the spread of COVID-19 will include:

  • Testing employees for COVID-19 before and during the fair, and make testing available for the public.
  • Offering COVID-19 vaccine daily in two locations at the fair.
  • 10 percent fewer carnival rides and 25 percent fewer vendors than usual in order to allow more room for physical distancing.

In a statement on its website, fair officials said “some of our guests might not agree” with the mask mandate, “but it is crucial we adhere to this for us to open our gates and remain open. So please, bring your mask and wear it.”

That’s a change from earlier health and safety guidelines the fair had said it would follow. Among them: Guests wouldn’t be required to wear masks or asked if they are vaccinated against COVID-19. The  no-ask policy about vaccinations is continuing, as are plans to hav hand-washing stations and/or hand sanitizer in customer areas, and frequent sanitation of rides, games and other “high-touch” facilities, officials said.

County Executive Bruce Dammeier and Puyallup Mayor Julie Door voiced support for going forward with the fair, calling it “an important part of life and vitality in western Washington” and part of the building of “economic and social resilience among Pierce County residents.”

So on with the fair and its usual exhibits and attractions (farm animals, fine-art and photography shows, the hobby hall, giant-pumpkin carving, and commercial products), big-name music acts (Carrie Underwood, Darius Rucker, Styx and REO Speedwagon among them), free entertainment, and the annual Puyallup Rodeo.

Ticket prices for older adults (62 and up) and children 6 to 12 years old will be discounted from regular general-admission rates. Kids 5 and under will be admitted free.

More information is available at thefair.com and from the Health Department at tpchd.org.

Pigs and other farm animals are among the traditional attractions at the Washington State Fair in Puyallup.

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