PUYALLUP, Wash. — After being canceled in 2020, the Washington State Fair reopened Friday with COVID-19 precautions in place.
This year’s fair will look like no other.
Under a health order from the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, all visitors age 5 and older are required to wear masks indoors and outdoors at the Puyallup Fairgrounds, regardless of vaccination status. All employees are also required to wear a face covering.
Fair spokesperson Stacy Van Horne said the only exemptions are for people with medical conditions and when guests are eating or drinking.
“There was a mandate,” said Van Horne. “We were basically told if we wanted to open up our gates, we had to mask up outdoors.”
Van Horne said the fair added 36 hand-washing stations to the fairgrounds. The number of vendors was also reduced by 25%, and there are 10% fewer rides than usual in an attempt to provide for more social distancing. Dividers were also installed between vendors inside the Mattress Firm ShowPlex.
Security officers will ask maskless guests to put masks on. Van Horne said if guests don’t wear a mask after being asked, they will be told to leave. Masks will be available on-site for guests who do not bring one.
Van Horne hopes people will not be confrontational about the mask mandate.
“If you’re mad, whether it’s at us, the county, the state, or you’re fearful, stay home,” said Van Horne. “It’s OK, we understand.”
Fair employees will undergo COVID-19 testing to help the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department track any potential cases or outbreaks tied to the fair.
The health department does have the authority to order the closure of the fair, according to department spokesperson Kenny Via.
“We are hopeful the mitigation strategies we worked on with the fair and others will help avoid that,” said Via.
The Washington State Fair, which is the largest fair in the Pacific Northwest, runs at the Puyallup Fairgrounds from Sept. 3-26. The fair will be closed on Tuesdays and on Sept. 8.
The fair started in Puyallup in 1900 and welcomes more than a million guests a year.