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


Drumming up fun at the 45th SE Fair


The 45th annual Southeast Alaska State Fair features novelties like a third performance stage, hyperkinetic Japanese drummers and an alien-themed obstacle course, but old standards were the top draws for young workers helping parents set up at the fairgrounds Wednesday.

Logan Coleman, 11, and mom Melanie Coleman were fixing up the kettle corn and ice cream booth. The Juneau family has worked at the fair for three years, with Logan helping cook and bag corn he said is made of “sugar and magic.”

Logan said he might participate in the alien race, but his top fair attraction is the Ferris wheel. “It’s the only Ferris wheel I’ve ever been on.” He said he also likes seeing the animals in McPherson Barn.

Alison Benda, 8, said her fair favorite was the merry-go-round, but said cotton candy also ranked as a top fair attraction for her.

In Harriett Hall Wednesday, a new portrait of long-time fair executive director Harriett Jurgeleit, the hall’s namesake, was looking down on exhibits, among them a plate of 17 organic, brilliantly red Anway strawberries raised by Becky Hinkle of Haines.

Hinkle won a blue ribbon last year with some golf-ball sized berries from the 150 plants in rows at her West Fair Drive home. She raised 300 pounds after starting five years ago with some plants from Dennis Miles. “I told my husband I could plant the whole yard. He said ‘No, I don’t think so,’ but I’m working on it,” Hinkle said this week.

Hinkle also entered a woman figurine she created of organically- grown vegetables from Whiterock Nursery of Haines.

Fair executive director Jessica Edwards said the number of exhibits may be down a bit from last year but there are some “astonishingly beautiful” ones like a woven spruce root hat made by Deborah Head of Craig, winner of the judge’s choice award in Native crafts. Jim Stickler of Haines won judge’s choice in woodworking for a segmented wood vase made of inlaid, blonde, tan and brown woods.

On Saturday, resident Trudi Blume was at the hall, putting finishing touches on a Steam Punk woman’s outfit made of recycled fabrics, including a bolero jacket made from a leather skirt, a bustier fashioned from cotton stretch pants and a high-low skirt cut from a plastic Christmas tablecloth. Twenty-two men’s ties sewn together create the outfit’s colorful tail.

Blume said she put together the recycled outfit, her first, in six weeks, after being inspired by last year’s wearable art show at the fair. “I wanted it to have a purpose, rather than just being pretty.”

The outfit – wearing the recycling department champion ribbon Wednesday – was one of two Blume outfits in the fair. The other – a dress crafted from artificial flowers – Blume was planning to enter in Saturday’s wearable art show.

Blume said she’s pretty much sold on the fair. “I look forward to the next one as soon as it’s over. It’s really the only entertainment for me. It’s that and bazaars.”

For the past five years at the fair, Lynn Schell of Horse Island Trader has sold felted items she makes by hand at her island home offshore of Auke Bay. Her offerings include wool garlands, purses, hats, scarves, gloves, rag rugs and octopuses.

“I love the fair. I plan my whole year around it. I love the atmosphere, the people and the town. It’s a chance to let your hair down. A friend of my husband’s saw me here last year, and said to him, ‘I didn’t know your wife was a hippie.’”

The fair continues through 4 p.m. Sunday. An updated schedule, and more stories and photos, can be found inside.