It was going to be a challenge: hitting nearly every event, ride, booth and exhibit at the Southeast Alaska State Fair. But it was a challenge I was ready to accept.
The opening day’s talent show included tween girls flipping over cups, a middle aged man telling a story about peeing next to a former president, and a young woman wearing a white plastic mask who twirled hula hoops to a creepy music box melody, reminding me of one of the most disturbing “Criminal Minds” episodes I’ve ever seen.
Leisurely roaming the grounds on Friday afternoon, I devoured a Hospice of Haines cupcake and made bubbles with a giant bubble wand.
During the second act of the kids’ puppet show, I was whisked away by a friend who wanted to check out the barn.
In a designated petting area, a small, hornless goat head-butted 5-year-old Norman Currie-Blanchard, whose family was visiting from Whitehorse.
At the Alien Adventure Run start line, runners were told the 5K course is difficult and that “some bushwhacking” may be necessary. We also took an oath, which included a promise not to hurt oneself. It was a promise I felt uncomfortable making, as I’m somewhat accident-prone. But realizing that the Forster brother who made us take the oath was dressed in rags, green paint and flags, I reassured myself that the oath didn’t carry much weight.
About 40 seconds into the race, a group of eager kids dressed from head to toe in green emerged from the brush and effortlessly snatched all the flags tied around my waist.
As a member of the fair’s fun force, I worked the bungee run, meaning I ran up and down a giant inflatable and watched two people at a time run as far as they could against the pull of a rope attached to their backs.
A mother and daughter duo were among my favorites. A muscular local man gave a stand-out performance, getting all the way to the end of the lane—a 24 on the 1-24 scale. A couple of participants were obnoxious and rude, but the adorably polite kids more than made up for it.
One cocky guy, around 20 years old, bounced aggressively past me after his mediocre performance, boasting about his 19—nothing special compared to a 14-year-old girl who consistently hit the 20 mark.
I jumpstarted my Saturday in a dog mascot costume, walking with dozens of dogs in the Haines Animal Rescue Kennel’s ‘loveable dog’ section of the parade. Between a hole in the right foot of the costume and my child-sized head, I was having issues seeing and walking straight. The ear that kept flopping into my line of vision didn’t help. I tripped over a border collie dressed as a cow—ironic, as he was the only dog wearing a bell.
Forgetting how scary a mascot costume can look, I ran up to a toddler to initiate a high five, and she buried her face in her mom’s chest.
Hungry and rushed, I registered for the logging competition’s ax- throwing contest just in time. At the registration desk, I annihilated a couple of Mosey’s tacos, hoping they would give me the strength I needed.
I was terribly nervous. I wished I hadn’t just put lotion on my hands. To my delight, the ax was lighter and had more grip than I expected. I sent the ax sailing over the target a couple times, but one, possibly two, of my throws hit the target.
The men’s ax-throwing began, and I sat in the bleachers and talked with a nice family from Santa Barbara. The conversation was cut short when a nearby spectator made a sexist joke, prompting the family to leave, in search of a less offensive environment.
My partner in the log-sawing competition wore a T-shirt that read “Hug a logger…You’ll never go back to trees.” He looked like he meant business.
I had only used a saw once in my life, which became evident when I nearly severed my femoral artery.
After we sawed through the log, I snuck away for a root beer float, worried I let my lumberjack partner down.
There was a lot to do on Sunday, as the fair was coming to an end. I warmed up with Zumba at the Main Stage. I wasn’t familiar with the routines, but the middle-aged women around me didn’t seem to mind my uncoordinated moves.
After catching Julia Scott and the Haines Women’s Choir’s performance of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” friends and I hit up every booth, game, and ride we hadn’t yet experienced.
A henna tattoo artist painted a cat on my chest. I hit the high striker as hard as I could, swung past chicken bingo, and sat on a massage pillow. We strolled through Harriett Hall, where I appreciated the rotting fruit, colorful quilts and Eli White’s photograph of lightning.
I grabbed a sample of spicy jam and headed over to Maggie Stern’s booth to get a feather in my hair. That was a big step for me since I have an irrational repulsion of anything that used to be—or resembles anything that used to be—attached to a living being.
A baby in a pirate hat made me smile, despite the sadness I felt as I left the parade grounds. I wasn’t counting on getting attached to the fair, but while the fair lasted only four days, my feather will supposedly be with me for the next couple of months.