Monday, August 29, 2016

Draining my bank account: Alaska State Fair edition

Me and my 1000 bestest Alaskan buddies

Well, it’s that time of year again. The Alaska State Fair is in full swing, and being the die-hard fair goer that I am (see here for prior coverage), it wasn’t a question of if, but when. Saturday, August 27 was the day, and along with 50,000 or so of my fellow Alaskans (oh all right, I did see a car with a license plate from Canada in fair traffic) packed it up and drove the miles to stand in lines, spend too much (honestly, a corn dog for $8!?), and eat too much (see aforementioned corn dog plus other things I would rather forget).

Motivated kids win ribbonsAn octopus with a monocle, a cousin of the Planter's peanut guyDancers putting on a show where pigs used to race

So maybe I’m exaggerating about the number of attendees last Saturday, but it felt very packed. I noticed an unusual amount of people using carts, crutches, and canes to get around, and finally realized, with my usual quick wit, that it must be Family Day at the fair. No, that’s really a Day there, and kids get in free. Maybe Seniors, too, cuz old folks were everywhere! I would have invited my grandma, but she is about 2,000 miles away and spent her Saturday watching a tractor parade. Oh la la.

Wineck barn, I think

I tell you what, when I’m my grandparents age, there won’t be a single soul on Earth that can convince me to march, mingle, and get mashed on the hard pavement amongst the green-haired kiddies, strollers running over my feet, and smell of grease. I will sit on a bench and eat a turkey leg (that booth always has a long line when I walk by hungry) and holler at my grandkids instead. I can’t wait.

Scary rideI watch because I am too tired to walk anymoreCool photo op

We got up early on Saturday, and after a few well deserved hints to the kids to get moving, pack up their raincoats, and use the toilet, we departed only an hour behind schedule. But about 300 cars behind schedule, too. The traffic past the Wasilla/Palmer freeway turnoff was not quite horrendous but well past dreadful.

We groaned and griped all the way through the back end of Palmer (look kids, potatoes!) until we parked the car and turned off the engine. After a reminder that I wasn’t going to carry the “backpack of necessities” the whole time like last year, like some sad Sherpa for my lazy kids, we entered the gates…after standing in line for a very long time to get to those gates. No really, it gets fun now.

I hate zucchini

So where was I? Oh yeah. All my fellow Alaskans (and Canadians) at the fair. It was sunny, so my pictures are nothing special, but the flowers at the fair always put other public displays around Alaska to shame. Honestly, why doesn’t Anchorage hire the gal that designs all this? Everything from matchy, matchy to humorous to sublime.

The veggie gardenGrasses galoreThe testing garden near an entrancelove the berry colors, so do the waxwings in winter

Veggie garden next to the Fair main office

I note the walled perennial garden is still aptly called “Perennial Garden” and am shocked it hasn’t been named after some politician or corporate sponsor. Our Alaskan legislators aren’t fixing our dreadful budget mess, so I’m sure they’ll have plenty of time to debate names for it this next session. I suggest christening it the “Beat it kids, I’m trying to take a siesta” Garden. Must be over 30 to enter.

Behind these trellises is a good spot to sit, don't tell!

The white flowering section

Some highlights:

1. PowerHouse percussive dance routine. Holy smokes, that kid, “Pee Wee,” can dance! Don’t miss all the clogging, tapping, and stomping. It’s free, which is nice because you already have to choose between a semester of college and that cheeseburger.

This was planted outside the quilt exhibit building

Quilt exhibitPlantings of bees in the middle of the fairAnother view of beesHow'd you like to maintain this plantingSome plant magic in a fair border

2. The gardens. The beehive and the quilt (pics above) were some of my faves. For some reason, the giant vegetables didn’t really thrill me this year. Meh.

3. The chick incubator tub. Don’t pick up the chicks! And I included my kids in that admonition. We already have 3 chickens at home, which is probably 3 too many.

4. The food. Ok, some of the food. A long line doesn’t necessarily mean the food is worth it. It just may mean your kid is screaming and you want to plug that hole with the nearest (fill in the blank food).

Some lowlights:

1. Traffic. Every year I say I’m going to pony up the cash and take the train. Future self: take the train!!

2. Not enough places to sit. They have been making improvements, but after 5 hours of pounding the blacktop, we need more places to park our sorry, tired selves.

3. The prices. I spent $100 on tickets: not to the opera, internationally known band, or all day waterpark venue, but for four rides for 4 kids, plus some games and food tickets we didn’t really want that came with the package. What a racket!

It’s 6 tickets for most of the big kid/adult rides, which is way, way up from the 2 or 3 tickets from my Pleistocene childhood, but still, I ask you, 6 tickets? The $8 corn dog is indefensible, but I did buy and eat it, so what does that say about me?

4. Not enough cute baby animals in the livestock area. Fooey. All right, all right, the little goats were cute.

So get up early, pack the hand sanitizer and sunscreen/raincoat (look out the window first to pick which), and head out to Palmer. The Fair runs until September 5. Don’t forget to cash out that 401(k) first if you want to eat.


Outrageous prices? Fairs you won’t do without? What’s your report on the fair in your neck of the woods?


  1. I can't remember the last time I saw a fair let alone went to one.

  2. I haven't been to a state fair for 45 years. Yes, I know exactly when I was last at a state fair because I was pregnant with my son. I never returned. Too much for me. It is fun seeing all the livestock and the projects. I doubt I return.

  3. We have one large fall fair in my neck of the woods (northern BC) and a few smaller ones, and I much prefer the smaller ones! The big one has a rodeo and amusement park which yeah it's fun, but you pay through the teeth just to wait in lines. We passed on it this year in favour of one of the smaller ones, it was so much fun. We went early and missed the bigger crowds, paid $20 for a family pass, and maybe another $20 in food/drink for 3 of us. Lots of animals, exhibition, tractor pull, bouncy castles, etc. My toddler was in heaven. But no gardens to compare to your fair! Wow, amazing stuff there :)

  4. So where you live how much does it cost for a corn dog at home? As one of those Seniors you talk about, I must tell you I enjoyed your trip to the Fair!!! Believe me your blog was a lot cheaper than a trip from upstate New York, a place to stay, food, reduced senior tickets and the cost of a walker with wheels and a seat. A smart old lady takes a place to sit with her. Your kids may always remember the day you spent the BIG BUCKS to take them to the fair. If they don't you can remind them. PS, Glad to see you blogging again!!!!

  5. I agree with Becky your version of the fair is much better than the talk thing! The South Dakota State Fair always had a big fish tank with a giant catfish! That is all I remember.


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I really appreciate and (hopefully) encourage participation amongst readers of this blog.


Related Posts with Thumbnails