Come August, a new fair attraction will be standing, open in time for the Washington State Fair in Puyallup.
What will this attraction be? Picture this: a five-building interactive farm on nearly two acres of land in the middle of the fair’s SillyVille.
Fair staff have coined the attraction, The Farm at SillyVille.
“This project is all about farming and nutrition,” Fairgrounds Entertainment Manager Andrea Thayer said. “So it’s going to look like you’re walking onto a family farm with different buildings that have morphed a little bit and become whimsical.”
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While The Farm at SillyVille's focus mostly caters to 4- to 5-year-olds, the attraction is open to all ages and free. The farm is meant to teach fairgoers about where their food comes from by having them participate in interactive farming processes.
Starting at the beginning of the attraction, children will receive empty lunch boxes. As they navigate the various buildings, they’ll add items to their lunch boxes.
In the milk building, which will be built to resemble an old-fashioned milk crate, kids can milk a cow and put milk through a processing wall. In the chicken coop, they'll learn about the animal life cycle and get to pick eggs to take with them.
In the grain building, fairgoers get to see a life-size combine and learn how grain is separated and milled. Next is the backyard garden, which shows how kids can connect to farming in an urban lifestyle using smaller plots of land.
Finally, at the end of the journey, kids receive a prize and a token — and hopefully walk away having learned something new, Thayer said.
“It’s very significant in our community because as we get more disconnected from our farming roots, especially in Pierce County, this gives us an opportunity to teach new generations of children about what it takes to actually get the food that they see in the supermarket and how to make those healthy food choices,” she said.
The idea for the project sparked a decade ago, after the fair’s board visited a similar attraction in the east.
“They really loved a concept that’s very similar to this, so they brought it back about 10 years ago,” Thayer said. “We’ve been working toward... how do we wanna do it, and how do we want to make it unique to Washington? So it’s taken us a great journey to get here.”
Fair staff said they’ve collected $2 million in fundraising for the project and are well on their way to the $3 million goal. The fair celebrated the beginning of the project with a groundbreaking on April 19.
The Farm at SillyVille will be open when the Washington State Fair opens on Aug. 31. It’s also the first time the fair has ever had an August opening date, Washington State Fair Chief Executive Officer Kent Hojem said.
“(The farm) will, I think, encapsulate what’s disappearing on our cultural landscape… It will give kids, and in some cases probably adults, the opportunity to really learn what it means to be a farmer, to learn where their food comes from, to make healthy food choices. So this is really an important part of our mission,” Hojam said.