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Washington State Fair enters the final stretch without any COVID-19 outbreaks

Organizers say enforcing added safety protocols was a "delicate balance" between keeping people safe and not scaring them away.

PUYALLUP, Wash. — It’s the home stretch for the largest state fair in the Pacific Northwest.

For some of the fair goers, it was a nice reminder of what life was like before COVID-19.

“I look forward to it every year, and unfortunately as we know, it didn’t happen last year, so it’s fun to be here right now,” said Tacoma resident Rick Davis.

“You know, last year, I think we were isolated for so long, we didn’t have the opportunity to be here,” said Chelsea Schwarx, who lives in Kirkland. “I think it’s beautiful that we now have the opportunity to be here.”

Pulling off holding the fair in a pandemic meant making some changes to safeguard against COVID-19

While attendees enjoyed the rides and an Elephant Ear, organizers focused on making sure that people protected themselves against the virus.

That means hand sanitizing booths, spacing out rides and vendors, having staff focus solely on clean up, requiring masks for attendees and making sure they’re worn correctly.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department threatened to shut down the fair at the first sign of a COVID-19 outbreak, so organizers say they're proud that the doors are still open, even though enforcing the new protocols was sometimes a challenge.

“It’s been a delicate balance,” said Stacy Van Horne, public relations manager for the Washington State Fair. “Some people say you enforce too much, some say you don’t enforce enough. We don’t want it to look like Fort Knox, but we know it’s a mandate, and we need to follow it, and we want to help keep everyone safe, but also not be scared either way.”

But the new rules didn’t seem to stop anyone from enjoying themselves.

“I’m happy to wear a mask,” said Portland resident Brian Peschkaa. “I haven’t been out of my house in months, so if this is all I have to do to go to a Macklemore concert, I will happily wear a mask, I’ll get vaccinated because it’s great for all of us.”

“I think everyone’s been going crazy being locked up, so coupling up, having fun but also being responsible and getting vaccinated, I think it’s a really good idea,” said Los Angeles resident Karina Fernandez.