The 43rd annual Southeast Alaska State Fair kicks off July 28 and fairgoers better begin strategically planning the four days in order to pack in as many activities as possible.

Beginning this week on July 22 and 23, most exhibits – including fiber arts, fine arts, hobbies and crafts and school projects – are due at the fairgrounds so judging can begin. Perishable entries, including baked goods, crops, vegetables and flowers are due Wednesday.

Once the fair begins, the options for entertainment and activities are as numerous as they are varied.

Each day of the fair is filled with performances, including blues legend Curtis Salgado from Portland; the younger, funkier blues band of Hillstomp, also of Portland; folk and country music by the .357 String Band, DJ Pressha from the West Coast; and Sasquatch Prom Date, a band from Whitehorse with a big-band, swing-dance feel.

Plenty of entertainment will also be supplied by local participants, including the perennial Logging Show and Fisherman’s Rodeo, fiddle contest, and songwriting contest.

A big draw this year according to fair organizers is the Southeast’s Got Talent show on opening night of the fair. The all-ages talent show is open to most kinds of acts, including singing, dancing, instrumental and comedy. Organizers just request “no animals, fire or dangerous acts.” Last year’s grand prize winner, 13-year-old Emily Ross of Whitehorse is expected to return to defend her title. Along with a $500 prize, the winner will qualify for the statewide “Alaska’s Got Talent” contest on September 5 at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer.

This year’s fair for the first time in several years will include the Gymkhana Horse Show, organized by Thunder Mountain Riders 4-H Club from Juneau. Also different this year is a showing of the locally made file “Smokin’ Fish.” The movie, created by Cory Mann, depicts a Tlingit man in Juneau returning to Klukwan to explore the balance between the modern world and an ancient culture.

More information is available online at The Chilkat Valley News will run a complete schedule of fair events in its July 28 issue.