Friday, October 15, 2010

Mount Rainier National Park Does the Puyallup

by Jim Ross

Retired park ranger and current park
volunteer Cleve Pinnix helps young
fair goers with the tracks and scat game.
Mount Rainier National Park made its presence known at the Puyallup Fair. The Puyallup Fair, which claims to be the 8th largest fair in the world, runs for 17 days each September. In one corner of the fairgrounds is a small building called the Northwest Outdoors Building which is dominated by a 60-foot long relief model of Mount Rainier and the Puyallup River drainage.

Mount Rainier's exhibits and activities occupied another 25 feet of space along one of the "trails" through the building. This area included two 10-foot exhibits. The exhibit “National Park Service in Washington” featured 10 park service sites found throughout Washington State. The second exhibit, “What can you see at Mount Rainier, when you can’t see Mount Rainier”, contained a collection of photos illustrating the idea that sometimes the lack of a broad view forces you to focus on the beautiful details. The highlight of the space was the tracks and scat game where kids of all ages could match the imitation tracks and scat with pictures of common mammals of Mount Rainier. They could then use track stamps to make their own bookmarks.

Staffing the booth for 11 hours each day were 43 park staff and volunteers from Mount Rainier and Klondike Gold Rush in Seattle. They greeted fair goers and answered questions about the parks and the park service. In addition, education rangers had three sessions in the building's Hands-on Arena where they made fox puppets and raven masks with the kids while teaching them about the problems of approaching and feeding wildlife.

Although fair attendance was down 10% this year, probably because of wet weather and the economy, it was one of the best years for the park exhibit. It is estimated that at least 10,700 people interacted in a meaningful way with the exhibits and staff members.

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