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This year, you’ll have to buy a ticket to get your greasy fair food fix

The new 108-foot Grand Wheel, located adjacent to the fair’s classic wooden roller coaster, looms over the midway at the Washington State Fairgrounds.
The new 108-foot Grand Wheel, located adjacent to the fair’s classic wooden roller coaster, looms over the midway at the Washington State Fairgrounds. dperine@thenewstribune.com

For folks whose favorite part of the Washington State Fair in Puyallup is grabbing a bite of greasy, cheap fair food without having to actually pay admission, this year will be a bummer.

No vendors will operate outside the fair’s gates this year. The city of Puyallup said it received no applications from vendors to operate along Ninth Avenue Southwest, the northwest side of the fair. Last year, Puyallup issued five temporary stand permits for the fair season, and the year before it issued 13.

For years, fairgoers and fair abstainers alike could visit handfuls of stands selling deep fried mushrooms, cotton candy and other grub along Ninth Avenue Southwest. Some operated near Cattin’s Family Dining, by the main entrance to the fair, and some held down spots at Ninth Avenue Southwest. and Fifth Street Southwest.

In January, that corner lot became the property of the Western Washington Fair Association, which runs the state fair. The fair association also has owned the property where Cattin’s is located since 2014. The parking lot of the restaurant had been a popular spot for vendors. State fair spokeswoman Stacy Howard said this year, no one applied for permits to run a stand at either location.

“The ultimate answer to the question, ‘Do we say no to vendors?’ (is) no,” Howard said. “We got no applications.”

Howard said she did not know how many vendors applied for and were issued permits to run stands at Cattin’s in 2014 and 2015.

Dan Peluso, a decadeslong fan of the pre-fair eats, said he was crushed when he showed up Friday morning, the first day of the fair, and learned he couldn’t get the deep fried mushrooms he’d been craving.

“The fair has become so commercialized, and I basically just go on the outside of the fair,” Peluso said. “I can afford to go on the inside, I can absorb that cost, but there are so many in our community that … they cannot absorb these costs and these fees.”

Candice Ruud: 253-597-8441, @candiceruud

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