The Puyallup fair cattle drive is shaping up to be shorter this year — a result of Puyallup teachers’ decision to strike.
The annual Western Rodeo Parade & Cattle Drive, which is hosted by the Washington State Fair, has a shortage of participants. What’s missing? Four Puyallup School District marching bands.
“We’re concerned because as of right now we’re probably 400 people short,” fair spokeswoman Stacy Van Horne said Wednesday.
Every year, marching bands from Puyallup, Rogers, Emerald Ridge high schools and Kalles Junior High School participate in the parade.
Because the strike delayed the start of school Wednesday, the Kalles Junior High marching band hasn’t had enough time to practice for the parade, said Brian Fox, Puyallup School District communications director.
“They won’t be marching,” Fox said.
Puyallup, Rogers and Emerald Ridge will also not participate. Both the district and Puyallup Education Association bargained over teacher compensation for weeks. Teachers announced the decision to strike Tuesday. As of Wednesday, bargaining continues.
“The three high schools will not be participating in the Rodeo Parade,” Puyallup High School band teacher Eric Ryan said in an email Wednesday. “It’s always an enjoyable journey to prepare for that performance on the third day of school but for safety reasons, with anything less we just can’t put ourselves in that situation.”
Van Horne said fair staff is already preparing for the absence of all Puyallup school bands and are working to incorporate other groups into the gaps in the parade, including possible sports teams, which are not affected by the strike.
“We’re working on it, but without the bands, it shortens the parade about eight minutes,” Van Horne said. The parade is typically 30 minutes long.
With or without the Puyallup bands, the parade and cattle drive is still scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday along Meridian Street in downtown Puyallup.
“The show must go on,” Van Horne said.