Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Most fair exhibits due July 21


Veteran quilter Donna Walter of Haines fashioned lace from a bridal net and learned 35 new techniques to create a satin and silk quilt that will be among exhibits at this year’s Southeast Alaska State Fair.

Most exhibits are due by 1 p.m. Saturday, July 21. They should be brought to the fairgrounds from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, July 20 and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, July 21. Exhibits of crops, vegetables and baked goods can be brought later. Submission of those entries is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, July 25. Fair dates are July 26-29.

Walter, who has created 30 to 40 quilts and has won bunches of fair ribbons, said her satin quilt creation is her most elaborate quilt in three decades at the craft. It features sown “bells” and a stitch called a tuxedo.

Besides its high cost, quilting in satin has its challenges, she said. “It’s hard to work with because it ravels terribly.” A class in her winter hometown in Wichita, Kansas offered to teach her to make the quilt in one year.

Instead, Walter bought the textbook and created it in four months, though she admits the project involved some 10-hour days. Walter took to quilting after retiring as a home economics teacher in 1982. She was previously skeptical of the craft.

“I thought that it was the dumbest thing to do, to buy all that fabric and then cut it up. Then I had grandkids, and I started making quilts for them. It’s addictive,” she said. Assistant fair director Jessica Edwards said quilt exhibits also will be coming from Juneau this year.

Arts exhibits will include three paintings by Yvonne Marie Howe of Haines Junction, Y.T. Howe, 75, has entered exhibits every year since 1991. She’ll be making her first trip to the fair this year. “I am so excited. I get to stay at the Halsingland Hotel. I love Haines. It’s gorgeous. It’s my favorite place other than here,” she said in a phone interview this week.

A former mountain climber and teacher, Howe sketched and painted Haines scenes while operating a passenger van service through town in the early 1990s. The trip is her first because it’s the first year she hasn’t been working, and she has a friend to help her with the driving, she said.

Summer’s cloudy, cold weather has posed a challenge, but the valley’s most dedicated gardeners say they’ll have vegetables to enter in the fair.

George Figdor has been selling kale, chard and lettuce at the local Farmer’s Markets for three weeks. “It’s been mature for about a month. It’s doing pretty well.” He has sold broccoli more recently.

Figdor grows his crops in a greenhouse and under row covers. He said wind has been a huge factor for gardeners this year. “Plants don’t like to be in the wind, and it tends to dry them out,” he said. He trains a fan on his plants in spring to make them hardier. “It toughens up the stalks. It’s tough love.”

Shipwright and welder Josef Quitslund of Petersburg has entered a life-sized raven made of silverware he welded together. As an entry for the recycling department, he also submitted a 14-inch version of Rodin’s “The Thinker,” made from light bulbs, springs and other used parts.

Quitslund has been making art of spare parts for eight years and last year entered in the fair a three-dimensional metal sculpture of a sockeye salmon on a bed of gravel. Other entries from Petersburg this year include Native crafts, spruce tip syrup, wines and paper art.

Fair assistant director Edwards said she wanted to emphasize that framed art in any department must be securely or correctly mounted according to the instructions in the exhibitor guide. 

Also, exhibitors should remember that department and division champions qualify for free shipping to be judged and exhibited at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. This is a new opportunity.

The fair also is seeking volunteers to help check in, organize, and display exhibits. To help out, call 766-2476.