Crowds swelled at the Washington State Spring Fair on Thursday through Sunday, thanks to the bright sun and spring temperatures that surpassed 60 degrees.
“We’ve been having good crowds,” said Karen LaFlamme, spokesperson for the Washington State Spring Fair. “Vendors are very pleased with sales, which are higher than last year.”
LaFlamme said the amount of interactive educational exhibits this year really appealed to young families.
Jaime Castro of Kent traveled to the fair with his family. He sat on a bale of hay watching his 5-year-old son, Raphael, grow enamored with the rubber ducky races. Children placed a small rubber ducky in a trough and pushed it by pumping water through.
“This is a new fun activity that parents and kids both love,” LaFlamme said. “It was made by our operations team.”
Castro said his son probably saw it as a game. But to Castro, a water pump was the difference between life and death when he was growing up in Veracruz, Mexico. Castro has lived in the United States for seven years.
“It’s a good place to educate my son about the importance of the water pump,” Castro said. “For me, it was the only way for us to get water.”
Inside the pavilion was the KidZone where children and even some adults played large-size models of games such as Scrabble, Operation and Chess. The various game stations made up the new exhibit Mindworks!
Daffodil Princesses Kaylee Wiest from Washington High School and Emily Saito from Eatonville High School were at the fair Friday interacting with children and enjoying the games.
“I like playing games and making crafts with the kids,” Saito said.
While Wiest and Saito were concentrating on a block-stacking game similar to Jenga, along came twin brothers Tanner and Spencer, both 7, to join in.
The boys and their mother, Linda Kim, came from Federal Way. Kim said her boys were really into the Lego station, the bug area and the garden center.
“We’re hoping to head to the games and rides next,” Kim said.
For a good while, the boys carefully took out the blocks to stack them higher, hoping the whole tower didn’t crash to the ground. When they successfully stacked the blocks, Wiest cheered them on.
Tanner clapped along when a successful stack was made. He said he had fun at the bug area.
“I enjoyed looking at the ladybugs,” Tanner said.
Meanwhile, in the Expo Hall, the Auto Alley exhibit featured a race car theme. Pacific Raceways and the LeMay Family Collection were sponsors. LeMay brought six cars and four motorcycles from its car museum in Spanaway, where 550 cars are in the collection. Other cars in the Auto Alley exhibit came from private collectors.
John Meister, a volunteer at the museum, was enjoying his Friday educating the public about the cars on display.
“We have been part of the Spring Fair for many years,” Meister said. “When people see a car, they see themselves in it. I’ve had people say they want to sit in it and drive it.”
Gary Longley, an advocate for children and motor sports education, brought his original race car simulator to Auto Alley. Those who wanted to try out the simulator paid $1 and all proceeds benefited the youth programs presented by the Pete Carroll Foundation. Longley’s EF-65 all-purpose hand cleanser has sponsored everything that has a motor on it and is tied into children. It is a NASCAR sponsor.
“Teaching kids how to raise money by giving instead of taking is our philosophy,” Longley said.
Longley said his race-car simulator is made out of a wrecked race car that he bought. He provides it for various youth-led fundraisers.
On Friday, Longley was entertaining people 8 years old up to 78 years old.
“It’s very user-friendly,” he said. “There are real-life circumstances developed in the game.”
Andrew Fickes: 253-552-7001 andrew.fickes @puyallupherald.com Twitter: @herald_andrew