The Washington State Fair will look different going into its 2020 season.
The Spring Fair, originally set for April, was cancelled due to COVID-19. Pierce County is in phase two of Washington’s Safe Start plan. The Fair continues to proceed with its preparations to welcome back guests in September should the county reach phase four.
In a COVID-19 business information series hosted by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, Washington State Fair CEO Kent Hojem said adjustments and accommodations are being made to ensure the safety of all guests for the duration of the month-long fair.
The Washington State Fair typically employs about 8,000 to 9,000 people each year. That number includes full time and seasonal workers, vendors, and all other help. The Fair usually brings in around $250 million a year. If the fair were to be cancelled, Hojem said the economic impact would be significant. “We are aware how our actions regarding the fair may affect the workers,” he said.
The accommodations the Fair has made so far include fair food-to-go and a drive-in concert series.
Fair food-to-go will be open for three weekends throughout July. Guests will be allowed to drive onto the fairgrounds to purchase fair food favorites. Vendors will have food available for purchase to-go at various stops including Earthquake’s Biggest Burgers, Fisher Scones, Krusty Pups, Elephant Ears, Cotton Candy, Funnel Cakes, and more. For more information about fair food-to-go, visit the Fair online.
“We’re hoping accommodations, like the fair food-to-go program, will bring some business back to local and regional vendors,” Hojem said.
The drive-in concert series, set for July 16-19, will similarly permit guests to drive onto the fairgrounds and enjoy live concerts from six country acts. Performers include Aaron Crawford, Jimmie Allen, Chris Brandi, and more. For more information about the drive-in concert series, click visit the Fair online.
In terms of the specific changes to the September fair, Hojem said he hopes the accommodations made in July can be extended to September.
“We’d like to expand our drive-in options,” he said. “We will be having a drive-in movie … and we’d like to explore other opportunities for guests to enjoy the fair.”
Hojem acknowledged that any fair could never truly allow for proper social distancing. If the Fair is able to happen in September, it will look vastly different than in previous years. Details regarding changes to this year’s Washington State Fair will be updated on the Fair’s website.