Q How can you tell that one of the Seattle television or radio stations has made a new hire?
A. When he or she mangles pronunciation of “Puyallup.”
Live around here for awhile and you don’t have any trouble with the name of the Pierce County city that hosts the state’s most spectacular fair every September. But consider an up-and-coming performer on the East Coast who’s been approached to play at the Puyallup Fair. A first reaction might be: “Where the heck is Puyallup”?
But ask the same performer to play at the Washington State Fair in Puyallup, and the reaction probably would be different. Just about everyone can locate Washington state on a map, and “the state fair” label has recognizable cachet all over the country.
That’s one reason changing the official name of the Puyallup Fair to the Washington State Fair in 2013 is no big deal. The move isn’t a snub of Puyallup; it’s just a practical recognition of the marketing advantages to calling it the state fair.
Besides, it’s not as if it’s always been the Puyallup Fair. Many of us remember when it was the Western Washington Fair, but because everyone called it the Puyallup Fair, the name was changed in 2006.
Even when it’s officially the Washington State Fair, locals will probably continue calling it the Puyallup Fair, or just “the fair.” When someone asks, “Are you going to the fair this year?” everyone knows what you’re talking about anyway.
Besides the marketing plus of being a state fair, the event in Puyallup deserves that title. It’s not just the biggest fair in the state, it’s also among the 10 largest fairs in the country. And it is the venue for statewide agricultural competitions. If any fair in the state should be the state fair, it’s this one.
Besides, fair officials say they’ll keep the popular “Do the Puyallup” slogan and theme song. It wouldn’t quite be the end of summer in these parts if they didn’t.