The Washington State Fair will branch out with something new to Puyallup next month.
A Luminasia exhibit — a 2-acre spectacle of illuminating Chinese lanterns that will evoke an East-meets-West theme — will be on display during the three-week run of the fair Sept. 6-22 and three weeks afterward, from Sept. 27 through Oct. 13.
The display, handcrafted by 40 artisans from Zigong, China, will be in the Orange gate parking lot to the west of the wooden roller coaster.
“It’s something new and exciting to this area,” said Karen LaFlamme, spokesperson for the Washington State Fair and Events Center. “We haven’t seen an attraction of this magnitude in the Northwest, so it should really draw people in from all over the region.”
The exhibit will be presented by International Special Attractions. Founded in 1996, the Beverly Hills-based company empowers upwards of 400 artisans from China who do everything from designing set pieces in the Luminasia exhibit, to ice sculptures and acrobatics.
ISA has dozens of touring shows, but it will present its first outdoor Luminasia exhibit at the fairgrounds.
“The opening day (of the exhibit) is my favorite part,” said Haiping Ge, president of ISA. “When you see everything made and people visit the exhibit and say, ‘Wow!’ ”
Terry Barnett, the production manager of the exhibit, said the artisans’ work is their livelihood.
“They grew up learning the craft, and this is what they do,” Barnett said.
Earlier this summer, Barnett said the company’s artistic director visited Seattle and other parts of the Northwest. The group took photos of the Space Needle, Mount Rainier, the Pike Place Market, ferry boats on Puget Sound and other unique Northwest spots. Artisans used the photos for inspiration to help them envision the look and tone of the exhibit.
Attendees will discover an opening scene of a brightly lit lantern corridor, followed by a 60-foot-tall Space Needle replica; a ferry boat on the Puget Sound; a lit replica of Pike Place Market that includes Luminasia-branded products for sale; Native American totem poles; apple trees that surround a mountain with a cougar on top; and an underwater sea theme wrapped around a fallen bridge with lifelike octopus, jellyfish, starfish and an orca.
Preliminary work was done in Zigong for a month. On Aug. 3, artisans arrived from Zigong — about a 6,400-mile trip — ready to build the exhibit. The crew will work on it during the next several weeks.
“This is a very detailed-oriented exhibit,” LaFlamme said. “There are a lot of moving parts in it that must be assembled here. It’s fun to watch it as it’s being built.”
The exhibit will utilize 50,000 bulbs, including LEDs, incandescents and some fluorescents.
“There will be 750 kilowatts of supply power,” Barnett said.
Part of Barnett’s job is to ensure the exhibit is adhering to energy regulations set by the federal government. With the exhibit pieces illuminated from LEDs, Barnett said it will be energy efficient.
Different colors of satin fabric coated with flame retardant will layer the shaped metal pieces.
Artisans first put together the metal frame of the piece. Then LEDs and incandescent bulbs are fitted into the frames. Lastly, fabric designers will layer the satin over the metal frames.
In the center of the exhibit will be a bridge over the existing retention pond at the fairgrounds.
Beyond the bridge will be an Asian theme. Barnett said there are about 300 lit satin flowers that will decorate the exhibit.
“We are hoping for a large turnout, being in conjunction with a fair,” Barnett said. “We’re hoping for a couple hundred thousand. It should take people about an hour to walk through, take it all in, and take their time and take pictures.”
If You Go
Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.