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The Washington State Fair celebrates opening day Friday with the Western Rodeo Parade and Cattle Drive and free fair admission until noon. Opening weekend specials continue Saturday and Sunday with free admission for kids (online coupon required) and Dizzy Pass unlimited ride bracelets, usually available only on weekends.

The annual event began as the Valley Fair in 1900 and later became the Western Washington Fair and then the Puyallup Fair. Last year, it became the Washington State Fair to reflect its status as one of the largest fairs in the country.

Concerts, carnival rides, 4-H displays and food vendors continue daily through Sept. 21, ending with the “Ultimate Tailgate” party and viewing of the Seahawks taking on the Denver Broncos.

Daily attractions include an array of thrill rides for the daring, kids and families. Sillyville favorites including the Giant Slide, Antique Merry-Go-Round, C.P. Huntington Train and Speedy, the new all-ages roller-coaster. The Sillyville food court features items for $2.50 or less, with everything from scones to barbecue, onion burgers, seafood, sweets and treats to deep-fried cake, bubble gum, and PBJs.

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For many fairgoers, it’s about the animals and there will be plenty to see: draft horses, cows, colorful poultry, piglets, rabbits, 4H cats, dogs, horses, llamas and many others.

Other favorite attractions include flowers, fruits, vegetables, giant pumpkins and grange displays, a photography show, recipe contests and quilt show and the Hobby Hall display of things people collect, from the popular to the obscure.

Also, hundreds of vendors and hawkers offer almost anything you might want and things you’ve never heard of that may become must-haves.

Along with ticketed concert events, free entertainment fills the fairgrounds daily, and special events include fireworks shows on Fridays and Fiesta Patrias entertainment Sunday, Sept. 14.

The Pierce Transit Fair Express is back this year, with free parking at Lakewood Towne Center, Tacoma Community College and South Hill Mall for daily bus service to the fair. Or you can take the Sounder Train to the fair Sept. 13 and 20. Details on transportation options, parking and directions are available on the fair webite.

There is a mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android available to download free on the fair’s website to buy tickets, get directions and help plan your fair day.

Madeline Mckenzie:

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