For the last 22 years, the Puyallup/South Hill Sunrisers Kiwanis Club has operated a shuttle service that runs from South Hill to the Washington State Fair.
It all started when Mitzel’s restaurant staff was shuttling folks from their location to the Washington State Fair, said Ron Pearson, Puyallup/South Hill Sunrisers Kiwanis Club secretary.
“Turned out they didn’t have the staff to continue, so they asked one of our folks if we could take it on,” Pearson said.
From then on, members of the Sunrisers and other Kiwanis clubs volunteered during the run of the Fair, shuttling folks to and from the South Hill location.
“The last two years we’ve rented 44 passenger buses,” he said. “We operated from the Holiday Inn and Best Western Plaza and also on the weekends from the Park and Ride on South Hill and the downtown Goodwill.”
As news of the shuttle service spread over the years, the Sunrisers Club found it didn’t have enough folks to serve the growing need of riders and so other Kiwanis club, Elks Club and Lions Club members in the area stepped up to drive shuttle vehicles.
Sunrisers member Thelma Sacklin volunteered as a greeter for the shuttle service and said she enjoyed meeting all the guests.
“They were all very thankful for the opportunity to get a ride down to the Fair,” Sacklin said. “Parking was good for them and it was a service we were performing for the community.”
The group operated strictly on a donation basis. The Washington State Fair has been very supportive of the group and helped in many ways, Pearson said.
However, as of this year, the Kiwanis Club shuttle service is ending.
“The hotel plaza area up there has so many businesses, and there just isn’t any more space for people to park their cars,” said Pearson, adding that the hotels are disappointed because many of their patrons looked forward to using the shuttle service as well.
Washington State Fair Events Center spokeswoman Karen LaFlamme said Fair officials are sorry to see the Kiwanis shuttle service come to an end.
“The Washington State Fair has enjoyed partnering with Kiwanis to offer another transportation option for guests and workers over the years,” she said. “Following Kiwanis tradition, they offered a valuable service to so many in our community. In doing so, they also helped lessen traffic on the roads. The Fair will miss having them back, and I know many of their riders will miss their friendly welcome and speedy service.”
There are other options for transporting guests to the Fair this year.
Pierce Transit will operate a Fair Express Bus beginning Sept. 11, opening day of the Fair.
Riders can park for free and catch the fair Express from three locations: the Tacoma Mall, Lakewood Towne Center and the South Hill Mall. The express service begins daily at 9:15 a.m. with the last trip leaving the Fair at 11:30 p.m. daily.
One way adult fare is $2; senior/disabled and youth 18 and younger is 75 cents. Children 5 and younger ride for free with a fare-paying passenger.
Sound Transit Sounder is also offering service for the Fair. Special Sounder trains will run on two Saturdays, Sept. 19 and 26, serving nine stations between Everett and Puyallup.
For more information, visit www.soundtransit.org/soundertothefair or www.piercetransit.org/washington-state-fair-express.