The 45th annual Southeast Alaska State Fair opens noon Thursday with the raising of the U.S. flag on the fairgrounds and Alisha Young of Haines singing the Star Spangled Banner.
Although the 18-year-old all-state soprano has performed the national anthem a dozen times or more, including at regional athletic tournaments, she’s still a bit nervous, she said. “It’s a song you don’t want to mess up, ever.”
Young’s performance will cap a day of fair entertainment featuring statewide, local and regional acts, including Southeast’s Got Talent, the regional talent show starting 6 p.m. on the Main Stage.
Talent winners in adult and youth categories win $400 and a spot at the Alaska’s Got Talent competition at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer.
“It’s a good chance to get up on the Main Stage with professional lighting and crews, and it’s a really supportive atmosphere,” said Jessica Edwards, the fair’s executive director. “We’ve had comedy, poetry, dancing, people singing and playing instruments.”
The family-friendly show has been a crowd-pleaser, she said. “I’ve had trouble finding volunteers for that night because everybody wants to watch the talent show.” Up to 22 acts have entered past shows and there’s room for 30.
Keva Shull, 11, will be participating in the show for the fourth time, playing an acoustic guitar and singing Taylor Swift’s “Safe and Sound.”
Winning the trip to Anchorage would be “awesome,” Shull said, but she just wants to play her guitar well, as it’s her first time playing it at the fair, she said.
Swing Set, the Haines-based swing band, will perform for a dance under Payson’s Pavilion following the talent show.
A Talkeetna-based bluegrass duo, The Deb Wessler Experience, and Los Holy Santos Gang of Homer, a folk-rock act, also will perform on the Main Stage Thursday. Gepetto’s Barnyard Puppeteers of Haines will perform 1:20 p.m. at the new acoustic stage built on the fairgrounds’ northeast corner.
“Thursday’s a great day to come out and see the fair because it’s not very crowded and there’s still a full day’s entertainment and things to do,” Edwards said.
Early this week, the fair’s food and vendor booths were sold out, she said.
Edwards said she wanted to remind residents to get their exhibit entries in by deadlines 1 p.m. Saturday (and perishable ones by 1 p.m. Wednesday).
She also encouraged fairgoers to register in advance for the event’s competitions including the Alien Adventure Race obstacle course, Logging Show, Fisherman’s Rodeo and the Haines Hustle fun run.
Registration is available online at seakfair.org or at the fair information booth near the main entrance.
The Haines Marching Band, which debuted at the Fourth of July parade, will march in Saturday’s fair parade. The group is seeking to expand its ranks and invites any interested musicians to a rehearsal 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Chilkat Center.