At least it's not hard to pronounce: starting next year, the Puyallup Fair will officially be called the Washington State Fair — a change designed to reflect the bigness of the event and avoid a word that trips up many newcomers.

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The Puyallup Fair will be no more.

Come next summer, the event will officially be called the Washington State Fair. Same fair, different name.

Spokeswoman Karen LaFlamme said the fair’s board has been toying with a name change for several years, conducting extensive market research on how that would play out.

“It wasn’t that far of a stretch, really, to see that a name change made sense,” she explained.

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First, she said, the name Puyallup Fair doesn’t resonate with everyone, especially Washington newcomers.

“They don’t know what Puyallup is, let alone how to pronounce it,” she said. “They don’t realize this really is a large fair.”

In fact, it’s the largest fair in Washington, attracting more than 1 million people over 17 days. This year’s run ends Sunday.

Calling it a state fair will also help in talks with the entertainment industry and with potential sponsors, LaFlamme said. “When they hear it’s the state fair they realize it’s a venue we would want to participate in,” she said.

The event was originally called the Valley Fair. In 1913 it switched to the Western Washington Fair, and has been called the Puyallup Fair since 1976.

Not everyone’s going to be happy with the name change, of course — at least at first. “It’s an education process,” she said.

So far, no complaints from the state’s next biggest fair, the similarly named Evergreen State Fair — which, actually, isn’t a state fair at all. It’s the Snohomish County fair, and, attracting about a third the number of visitors, it doesn’t see Puyallup as its competition, according to Hal Gausman, Evergreen State Fair manager.

Anyway, he said, “I think ours is a lot cooler than theirs.”

Maureen O’Hagan: 206-464-2562 or

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