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


SE State Fair preview


This weekend's annual 45th SE Fair offers classic fair events, plus some new ones. See you at the fair!

Fair tunes range familiar to exotic

Friday night’s headliner The Bad Tenants and Saturday night’s Hillstomp are no strangers to the Southeast Alaska State Fair, but the 45th annual fair has plenty of new faces sprinkled throughout the four-day event, said entertainment coordinator Beth Bolander.

Bolander said one of the acts she is proudest to feature is Jaffa Road, a Toronto-based, award-winning five-piece that blends ancient Jewish, Arabic and Indian music with modern rock and jazz. They take the Main Stage 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Jaffa Road is currently nominated for a “Best World Music Album” at the Juno Awards, the Canadian equivalent of the United States’ Grammy Awards. “They’re a pretty big deal,” Bolander said.

The fair’s “kinetic” act, One World Taiko, is bringing its traditional Japanese drums and garb to the Main Stage 6 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. Saturday. Bolander said the group spins, kicks and jumps while beating the large drums, which should make for a real treat for the eyes as well as the ears.

The group combines “heart-pounding percussion” with fluid choreography to put a modern jazz twist on the Japanese tradition of taiko. The ensemble uses several drums such as an odaiko (large drum), chudaiko (medium-sized drum), shimedaiko (small, rope-tied drum), and also incorporates a bamboo flute and shamisen, a three-stringed banjo-type instrument.

Carrie Nation and the Speakeasy will follow Jaffa Road at 9 p.m Saturday. The band, named after a radical member of the temperance movement who was murdered in the early 1900s, on face-value sounds like a traditional bluegrass band: trombone, mandolin, banjo.

But when Bolander met the group at a bluegrass festival in Kansas this winter, she knew she had to lure them and their unique sound to the fair stage.

Hillstomp, a Portland-based junkbox blues duo who played the fair two years ago, will close out Saturday at 10 p.m.

Newcomer Maria in the Shower, a Vaudevillian quartet from Vancouver, will hit the stage at 10 p.m. Friday, preceding the Bad Tenants at 11:30 p.m. Bolander described Maria in the Shower – who Haines residents have raved about since seeing them perform at the Atlin Music Festival several years ago – as a jazzy rock quartet that is “quirky, fun and danceable.”

According to the group’s website, the band “revels in the fun and challenge of making old music feel new, (and) writing and performing material that is as fresh as it is traditional.”

Closing out Sunday at 3 p.m. is four-piece Moonalice, a favorite among locals for their Grateful Dead-esque sound and “extended musical improvisations that evoke a sense of adventure and exploration.”

Moonalice will be preceded at 2 p.m. by fair newcomers Slush Not Snow, an indie rock/pop punk group from Juneau. The band, comprised of three 20-something Juneauites, is known for their “hard-hitting and dynamic pop songs with emotionally-driven lyricism.”

Jaffa Road lead vocalist Aviva Chernick, who frequently sings in Hebrew, will also hold a Shabbat workshop at 6:30 p.m. Friday on the acoustic stage. The workshop will allow the public to participate in the singing, chanting and meditation characteristic of the Jewish ceremony, Bolander said.

“You get to experience a Shabbat workshop, which I think is kind of neat. A lot of people here don’t even know what that is... Everybody will be able to participate, the way she described it to me,” Bolander said.

The fair will also include performances by local bands the HI DE HOs, Swing Set, Fishpickers, Devine Funk, Sweet Sunny North and Julia Scott and the Durt Bags. Regional acts include the B Team All Stars, Gnat King Kong, the Hillbilly Honeys, Adam Wood, Nicole Edwards, Irene Muller and the Windy Valley Boys.

For more information on performers, visit


Contests for loggers, joggers and lovable dogs

If you haven’t entered an exhibit in the fair, you might still win a ribbon.

Amid the music, food, rides and other events at the 45th annual Southeast Alaska State Fair, there are contests for loggers, fishermen, runners, horseshoe-pitchers, volleyball players, fiddlers, songwriters, dressmakers and float artists.

Grand Parade:

Rain or shine, there’s likely to be a sun or two on Main Street Saturday, as floats compete in the fair’s Grand Parade, themed “Solar Fair.”

Diane Arnold, who has created giant puppets, oversized pinwheels, and car-sized top hats for previous fair parades, said she’s launching another creation based on the sunny theme.

The Haines Marching Band, which made its debut at the Fourth of July, has an ambitious selection planned for the parade, said organizer Sue Waterhouse. “We’re stepping it up a notch for the fair.”

Lovable dogs, Native dancers, and Main Stage performers typically make the big march. Parade line-up is at 10:45 a.m. Saturday behind the fire hall at Second Avenue and Old Haines Highway.

Logging Show:

Loggers and wannabes are welcome to participate in the annual fair Logging Show at 1 p.m. Saturday behind Harriet Hall.

“It’s a really fun event to participate in,” said Maria Knutson, a past competitor. “I really enjoy all the events. It’s fun to get in there and compete against all the guys.”

Knutson has placed as high as third in the contest’s log-rolling competition.

All men and women 18 years or older can compete. There’s a $10 entry fee, and participants must register at the logging show area by noon.

“We usually draw in a pretty large crowd,” said co-coordinator Ashley Sage. “We always have people who have never done it before and then decide they want to give it a shot, which always makes it fun.”

Events include Jack and Jill hand-bucking, single-hand bucking, axe-throwing, obstacle-bucking, large and small power-saw bucking, hook tender logging and log rolling.

“People always stay around for the log rolling to see who is going to get soaked,” said Sage. “That and axe-throwing are always our most popular.”

There will be axes, chokers, hand-bucking saws and safety equipment, such as goggles and gloves, available for contestants. Contestants are asked to bring their own saws for power-saw competitions.

In axe-throwing, there’s an extra $50 prize for splitting the postage stamp in the bull’s eye.

Lovable Dog Show:

Your dog needn’t be lovable to win a prize in the fair’s Most Lovable Dog Contest. There are also awards for Best in Parade, Most Alaskan, Biggest Dog, Smallest Dog, Best Trick, Look-alike with Owner, Only a Mother Could Love and Best-Dressed.

“Last year’s Best-Dressed went to a dog dressed as a sheriff and its owner dressed as a prisoner,” said coordinator Steve Vick of Haines Animal Rescue Kennel. “It was a riot.”

All participants must meet at the firehall at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday to register their dogs for the contest and to walk in the parade. “We ask to have leashes on all dogs during the parade,” said Vick.

Random spectators will serve as judges in the parade category. Immediately after the parade, dogs and their owners continue to Tlingit Park for the remainder of the contest, judged by out-of-towners.

Three visitors to town are asked to serve as judges. “We want to keep the contest fair,” Vick said. The top three finalists in Best Trick, Look-alike and Best-Dressed advance to the Main Stage in the fairgrounds at 1 p.m. where the audience will choose champions.

Prizes offered include dog food, dog biscuits and cash prizes. Volunteers equipped with “pooper-scoopers” and extra leashes will assist the owners.

For more information, call HARK at 766-3334.

Alien Adventure Run:

Last year it was zombies. In keeping with the fair’s theme, extraterrestrials will stalk runners around the parade grounds during the Alien Adventure Run, a 5K obstacle course race starting 4 p.m. Friday.

Hazards on the two-lap course around the fairgrounds will include mud pits, climbing walls, spray from fire hoses and little green men. “I don’t want to give too many secrets away about the course, but I will say that it will not be easy,” said co-coordinator Eric Forster.

Each runner will be given a flag football belt with four flags. Aliens will try to snatch flags, each worth 30 seconds off a runner’s time.

“Even if you finish before everyone, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re the winner,” said Forster.

Jenn Walsh finished tops among women in last year’s race. “I ended with more cuts and scrapes than with sore legs,” she said. “I love the swamp they made us crawl through. It took the longest, but it was definitely the most fun.”

The top man and woman finishers will receive a custom Alien Adventure Run hooded sweatshirt. The race will start in front of the Shtumpa Shop in Dalton City. Runners should bring an extra pair of dry clothing and shoes for after the race. For more information on the race, call the Shtumpa Shop at 766-2961.

Volleyball Tournament:

Beach volleyball only happens once a year in Haines, in a court inside the state fairgrounds.

“We’ve been doing this tournament for over fifteen years,” said organizer Tomi Scovill, coordinator of the event. “We’re looking forward to a big showing this year.” Eight teams are signed up, including two from Skagway.

In the past, the tournament lost participants and spectators to the softball tournament that took place on the same day. “Now that the softball tournament is not happening this year we hope to attract more people to the volleyball court,” Scovill said.

The tournament will start at 10:30 a.m. Sunday next to the Klondike Saloon. Teams can register until 10:15 a.m.

The coed tournament requires four people per team. Only two men per team are allowed on-court at a time. Players must pay to get into the fair in order to play and winners get T-shirts.

“This is always a fun event for everyone, even if you’re just watching,” said Scovill. “We’d love to have as many people come out to play or even to just show their support.”

For more information on the tournament, call Scovill at 766-2940.

Fisherman's Rodeo:

Think you’re a whiz at mending gillnet web? Try your hand against local commercial fishermen at the annual Fisherman’s Rodeo, starting at 4:30 p.m. in Dalton City.

Events include a survival suit-donning race, fishing trivia, cork-tying, and pot-baiting. For armchair fishermen, there’s also a fishing trivia contest. Prizes to be awarded include $150 for top overall finish and a $50 random drawing for contestants.

Wearable Art Show:

High fashion mixes with the bizarre at the fair’s annual wearable art show, a crowd favorite since starting up few years ago.

Besides elaborate creations of fabric and other materials from wearable art shows around Southeast, the fair’s show has attracted fishermen and zombies in skirts.

Fair organizers say this year’s event is nearly at maximum capacity for 10 outfits from around the region, so if you have an entry in mind, move quick.

Sign up at the fair information booth near the Main Stage.The show starts 5:30 p.m. Saturday on the Main Stage.

See the information booth or schedules for information about other fair competitions.