What to Do in Washington in September

Festivals and fun times across the state, like a Scottish-themed fair in Kelso and weird wildlife southeast of Tacoma.

By Allison Williams September 3, 2021

Bull riding: Not for the faint of heart (or weak of bone).

Image: Andre Silva

Ah, fall. When Northwesterners turn their thoughts to...fried food and caber tossing? Sure. It beats back to school stress.

Washington State Fair

In Puyallup the petting zoos are primed and the scones are buttered, and the Washington State Fair is ready to open on September 3. In light of current pandemic conditions, masks are required both indoors and outdoors. Bonus: You may not be recognized when you hit the elephant ears line for the fifth time in a row.

Professional Bull Riding

It's hard to believe that the professional circuit of people who willingly jump on the back of an angry animal has never made it to Kennewick, but the September 10–11 PBR Tri-Cities Classic will be a first. (The PBR league of cowboys has appeared elsewhere in the Tri-Cities, though.) The event, held at the Toyota Center, is centered around the question, "Just how many bones can you break at once?"

Cloudstone Sculpture Park

Sculptor Hank Nelson has works in parks and public spaces around Western Washington, but the Whidbey Island Cloudstone is twenty acres of serene forest, dotted with his bold installations. The Freeland park hosts $10 tours September 4 and 5.

Elk Bugling Tours

There's something a bit pervy about taking a tour of another species breeding, but the elk that fight and bellow through the fall don't seem to mind onlookers. Northwest Trek—a Metro Parks Tacoma joint, even though it's closer to Mount Rainier—does a keeper-guided Jeep excursion of bugling elk (for visitors 13 and up) on select days through October 3.

Kelso Highlander Festival

Feeling plaid? Clannish heritage grabs center stage at Kelso's annual salute to all things Scottish and Celtic. Bagpipers and highland dancing are fun, sure, but the caber tossing and stone throwing at the Highland games will likely produce the most entertainment. Bonus points for quoting Outlander, Highlander, or any Sean Connery character during the day.


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