The Puyallup Fair has a new option for drivers picking up loved ones at the fairgrounds – one popular at airports around the country.
It’s offering a “cellphone waiting lot” in cooperation with the City of Puyallup.
Drivers can park there for up to 30 minutes while they wait for the call signaling their fair-going relatives or friends are ready for a ride home. So far, the lot has been busy, said Karen LaFlamme, fair spokeswoman.
It’s several blocks from the fairgrounds, at Third Street Southwest and Fourth Avenue Southwest, near the city library. From the lot, it’s a straight shot on Third Street to the fair’s new pick-up zone at Third and Ninth Avenue Southwest, by the fair’s Red Gate.
The fair wraps up its 17-day run Sunday. It’s one of the biggest fairs in the world, drawing more than 1 million people.
The new cellphone lot isn’t on fair property; it’s a temporary part of an existing lot – known as the AOB lot – that belongs to the city.
The AOB lot has about 100 stalls, which are used by city employees, patrons of the nearby senior center and employees of downtown businesses. About 10 are marked off to be used as the cellphone area during the fair’s run.
They’re available from 6-11 p.m. through Friday and from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The city isn’t charging the fair for the spaces, said Glenda Carino, city spokeswoman.
“This is the first time we’re doing it,” she said. “It’s an experimental thing, to see if it works.”
Fairgoers also might notice another transportation change this year: there are no special fair-only buses running to the grounds.
The fair used a private company to provide direct buses last year, after Pierce Transit eliminated its special-event service in a round of cuts. But they were expensive for the fair and not well used by fairgoers, LaFlamme has said.
She said there have been no major spikes in parking or traffic congestion this year.
People still can take regular transit routes to the fair.
The fairgrounds were bustling Tuesday afternoon. On the streets outside, residents waved signs and flags advertising deals on private parking. (People who live around the fair often transform their lawns and driveways into temporary private lots as a way to earn extra cash).
Cindy Honey, who lives near the Red Gate, said her parking business has been slow this year. She believes it’s because of adjustments in how traffic is being routed to the grounds.
But she was expecting things to pick up this weekend as this year’s fair ends.
It’s a traditionally busy time.
“The cars are bumper-to-bumper everywhere here,” Honey said. “It’s a sight to see.”