Monday, September 13, 2010

Flowers, food, and freaks

Or as the LFG hubby says, the three “f”’s of the state fair.  I might also add “full parking lot.”  For those that checked out the giant veggies last week on the blog, this week’s lowdown is not super-sized, but quite a bit more fattening, I’m afraid.

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One thing about our State Fair in Palmer, the flowers are always stupendous.  And they’re everywhere, even hanging near the restroom doors.  Something I noticed new this year (meaning it’s the first time I noticed it, not that it’s new) was the All-American Selections just inside the gate. 

fair 068Do you realize what this means?  This implies no less than that someone has conceded Alaska is indeed part of America.  I still struggle with some mail-order companies that just don’t believe it.  Also sighted in this area, selections of fruiting trees and shrubs like mountain ash (Sorbus spp.) and currants (Ribes spp.).

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If herbs and vegetables are more your thing, there is a delightful gated garden that, correct me if I’m stating the impossible, seemed to be growing okra.

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There is always a theme to the fair, and this year is no different.  I’m not saying the themes are always catchy, clever, or creative.  2010 was the “Imagine if…” year.  One of the most fun horticultural sightings is always the south side theme display.  This year they were inspired by the carousel ride just around the corner.

fair 104 If carousel rides aren’t your thing, try some of the fun booths, a few of which sported antiques, jewelry, pottery, clothing of all kinds and decades, garden themed items, and even bona fide living plants.

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And this wouldn’t be the Alaska State Fair without a few vendors displaying outdoor wares of another variety.  The Y chromosomes were hovering like bees.  I was actually knocked aside in a small stampede of teenaged boys on their way to view the 2011 model snow machines (or snowmobiles for you non-Alaskans).

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No fair is complete without the flower show.  Even this (rainy, miserable) summer, at least a few people managed to grow show quality flowers.  For anyone that’s wondering, no, I have nothing show quality.  Congrats to the winners (who must have sheltered each blossom with its own miniature umbrella from our month and a half of rain).

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One more garden item and then I’ll move on.  A spectacular perennial garden, with the romantic name “The Perennial Garden” is tucked between two large exhibit halls.  For the best use of new, unusual, and little known plants in a public garden, this is the place in south-central Alaska, and the Last Frontier Gardener is not one to gush.  Unfortunately, my skills with the camera are not a sight to behold and it was the one sunny day of the fair, which I’m not about to complain about.  I find wearing my sunglasses helps when viewing these washed out pictures, but to each their own.

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What is a fair without the artery clogging food?  They dip everything in hot oil here, from corn dogs and halibut to donuts and Twinkies.  (I went for the halibut, if you must know.)  My doctor needn’t worry, I starved myself so as to have all available calories for this jaunt.  Jokes about the grease aside, there really is a lot of different food choices and types of cuisine.  Next year I have made a mental note to try the cream puffs and the cheese curds, and will someone please tell me where the booth that was selling chocolate covered bacon was?

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After eating said grease, I wasn’t in the mood to defy gravity or tempt physics, so the kids did the rides sans me.  I risk sounding elderly mentioning this, but the music at each ride was deafening and a bit, uh, edgy.  Why do the little kiddie rides need heavy metal playing at louder decibels than a plane taking off?  “Mom, what does ‘shout to the devil’ mean?”

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And I can’t wrap it up without tipping my hat to the guys who have probably broken more bones and whose mothers are some of the most worried (or heavily sedated) in the world.

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Just to be clear, the guy sitting down is on top of a ramp about seven feet off the ground.  The other guy back flipped over him on a bike.  Probably the best entertainment at the fair and no one died that I’m aware of….  Ok, ok,  just one more of these fun pictures.

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I didn’t manage to capture photographic evidence of many freaks, though it made a handy title for the post.  What captured my notice was the fact that nearly every smoker in our state seemed to have showed up on the day I was there.  For some reason, I thought the fair had designated smoking areas.  I’ll go ahead and give this kid with crazy hair the freaky title for this post though I’m sure she’s as normal as can be.

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After four hours of trudging around and taking more than three hundred subpar photos, it was time to head home.  Now just where did I park?  Maybe I’ll take the train next year instead since they have a depot right at the fair.  Who doesn’t love a train ride?

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Had any greasy fair food lately?  How are the gardens at your fair?


  1. WOW! Love the flowers of course, but the pics of those dudes doing bike tricks are so awesome! :D

    I think our state fair isn't until late October...

  2. The Perennial Garden is one of my favorite areas on the fairgrounds. It's right across from my booth (Bad Girls of the North) and a great place to get away from all the noise.

    And oh, the chocolate covered bacon was at the ice cream bar booth. I chickened out at the last minute and did not try one. I heard very mixed reviews.

  3. Ha ha up here or should I say down here we call snow machines sleds. I love fairs.

  4. Your state fair looks very impressive; the display gardens and flower show actually make me quite jealous. Michigan's state fair had nothing comparable in recent years and now it has been scrapped completely...

  5. @Orion Designs
    Thanks for the bacon source tip. I don't know that I'm brave enough to try it either. Maybe I can work up my courage by next year's fair.


  6. wow, amazing hair! (both on the girl and on that lovely pony)

  7. Great post! I can't even begin to tell you how much I want one of the horse topiary things. Can you send it to me please?

  8. It looks like a great time!
    I can't stomach fair food but it always smells awesome. I liked the girls rainbow mohawk. Fun.

  9. Hi Christine. Your fair has so much and color too. Our local county fair has not plants unless you go indoors to the flower judging. I guess they figure here if the grass around the fair grounds is mowed then it looks good enough. LOL!

  10. Now that is a State Fair. Salmon quesadillas ... my mouth is watering. I'm happy to get fried dough at our late summer/early fall fairs.

  11. Wow. I loved ALL the photos, and so many. I like county fairs and this one looked like a blast. The flowers are done up so well, and that horse...So cute. Loved the mane.

  12. Hi Christine, Your great post reminded me of why I stopped going to the fair years ago. Been there done that, kind of a thing. Icky food, icky smells, icky sounds... but the X-games biker guys .... would have been fun to see. :)

  13. Cool Pics.. How warm is it there now? Winter hasn't started yet, has it? lol

  14. I would like to add two more "f"... FABULOUS , FANTASTIC!!!
    I am inviting you to another different fair.. check it out.

  15. @Indoor Fountains
    You mean, of course, how "cold" is it, because we haven't really been warm since May.... It's about 63 degrees F today: officially autumn temperatures if you ask me.



    Thanks for the invite and the compliment, it was pretty fun.


  16. Dear Christine, I was really looking forward to this post after your last ... and I wasn't disappointed. You are right, the flowers are stupendous! So much to see at your fair ... thanks for taking us there. Pam x

  17. that is quite a show you have there...the blooms in the bottles are adorable..but chocolate covered bacon? is this an alaskan delicacy? but i would love to travel on that train, i would imagine the scenery is fantastic...

  18. Oh! Those flowers caught my attention. It seems you have a great flower gardens. How I wish I could have a cool garden like yours. Keep it up!



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