It has been 48 years since my grandparents first moved into their house on the fairgrounds, 11 years since my grandpa retired and they moved off the grounds, 10 years since my grandma’s been gone, and 2 years without my grandpa. And now I can add their house to my list.
The fair is much more than food and people watching to me and my family. We grew up exploring and playing on the grounds year-round. Looking for agates was a particular favorite because after our hunt was complete, my grandpa would take us to his office and polish them for us. We had access to buildings like The Colossuem when they were deserted and eerie. Perks during the fair were immeasurable: Private python viewings, unlimited giant slide tickets, and front-row fireworks seats were the norm for 22 years of my life. And perhaps the best part: stopping back at the house for an air-conditioned, clean bathroom break and visit with my grandma 🙂
But that not really why I wanted to write today. As I know the fair better than the back of my hand (ask anyone who has ever gone with me), I wanted to offer some advice to maximize your fair experience.
1) Free water: The Culligan station is located just a block inside the front gate on Dan Patch Ave. Kare 11 is also helping fair-goers stay hydrated across from the go carts and river raft ride.
2) A scenic view: The Sky Glider. Take a walk to the north end, check out the logging competition along the way (surprisingly entertaining), pet some cute pups in the Pet Center, partake in some some group karaoke at the Giant Sing Along, indulge in red velvet funnel cake (YUM), and then hop on the Sky Glider for a cheap, cooling ride and a sweet view of the grounds. MUCH better than the Sky Ride (the enclosed one) or Space Needle.
3) The Giant Slide. Fun for ALL ages and the walk to the top is a great way to burn off one or two cheese curds. Just be careful what comes out of your mouth…the bumps are miked. Oh, and make sure to go on it before ingesting too much goodness…you wouldn’t want to follow in Fergie’s footsteps!
4) New this year and worth it: Axel’s (west of the Space Needle) cocoa-dusted cheese is..wait for it…BETTER than regular cheese curds! They are far less greasy and offer a way more complex flavor. The Ball Park cafe’s Day Tripper battered onion rings pair perfectly with their large selection of microbrews (and I don’t even like onion rings!).
5) Cool shopping: The Bazaar (located on the south end) and Heritage Square (west of the Gran Stand). There is always good music and food at both locations as well. Feeling adventurous? Try Holy Land’s lamb “fries” (code for testicles) or a candied bacon stuffed cannoli.
6) Ice cream: Although sweet-corn-, mini-donut-batter-crunch, and mango-flavored are all tempting, the best is still hands down in the Dairy Building. Just watch our for the hours so as not to be let down like we were 😦