The Alaska State Fair

Previous post: Dinner with Aunt Jody

The Minnesota State Fair is just getting underway back home. I LOVE the fair and am loathe to miss it, so have made plans to visit the opening day of the Alaska State Fair today. (Besides, Dave and Shari visited here years ago and I've always thought that sounded like a cool thing to do.)

The drive up to Palmer is pleasant, but I wish we had better weather - the lush valley is surrounded by rugged mountains. It must be stunning on a day when you can actually see the mountains! Even so, it makes for a lovely drive.

Once we arrive, we find that Alaska's fair is both very different from Minnesota's and also very much the same.

For example, while there are no mountains in Minnesota, there are plenty of corny signs - the difference is that here they tend to feature moose and salmon, rather than gophers and loons.

Like Minnesota, the Alaska fair also features concerts and shows, but the mix of performers here seems to lean more toward native groups that perform traditional songs and dances while children casually roam around the stage.

(What strikes me most is that the children wandering about on stage don't bother anyone - it's as if this is normal and expected. I wonder if that says more about the informality of culture here or the importance of children . . . maybe it's both.)

There is also a lot nicer flower garden here than anything on our fairgrounds. . .

. . . and a vegetable garden filled with very large, healthy-looking plants.

Of course, having experience setting up the Creative Activities displays at home, I have to check out what's on exhibit here.

There are lots of other familiar things on display too, such as produce, . . .

. . . old tractors . . .

. . . giant veggies . . .

(Ok, we don't have giant veggies at our fair, but we do have vegetables.)

. . . and mushroom collections.

(We don't have those back home either.)

Of course, there are the expected rows of food stalls.

While the dining offerings tend more toward caribou, halibut, or salmon than they would at home, there are also universal fair staples like kettle korn, turkey drumsticks, and corn on the cob.

And, of course, there is a midway, which - at least at this time of day - seems very tame and family oriented.

The whole fair feels very home-grown and more like a very large community festival than the rather slick, big city event that I've known all my life. Not better or worse, only a different perspective.