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

Need tooth bling? Vendors offer latest in fair wear


The 47th Southeast Alaska State Fair features six flavors of cotton candy, chain mail bikini tops and tooth bling.

Plus, fairgoers can chow down at the food booths with a clear conscience, in an environmental sense, anyway.

For the first time, all fair vendors will be using compostable service ware, made from corn, sugar cane, switchgrass and wheat fiber. It’s a change five years in the making, with encouragement from Haines Friends of Recycling, which will be collecting food waste, and biodegradable plates and flatware.

President Melissa Aronson said the recycling group hopes to have bags of food waste at its fair booth for gardeners to take home to their compost piles.

“The best way to make soil is with compost. There’s no soil here unless you buy property that used to be a farm. Food scraps and plates aren’t waste. It’s a food source. We have to change our thinking about this,” Aronson said this week.

The fair generates about two tons of trash each year. Paul Nelson, whose Acme Transfer has hauled fair trash as a donation for about 12 years, said he’s all for the switch. “We encourage the fair to compost and recycle, for everyone’s benefit.”

Alex Stock says he’ll offer at least six flavors of cotton candy. Stock, who operates a scooter rental business, said he’s bringing his cotton candy machines up from Houston, Texas, because he couldn’t find any at last year’s fair. A self-described lifelong devotee of the spun sweet, Stock’s flavors will include “pink vanilla,” blueberry and cherry, Jolly Rancher, Nerds and grape.

There are 17 food booths this year, including newcomers Sourdough Bakery and Pilot Light.

Tooth bling, in the form of Swarovski crystal elements, makes its debut at the fair this year. Amber Winkel said she was inspired by a friend who has one of the cosmetic gems. “She said someone should do this at the fair, and I have a daughter who’s trying to raise money for college, so we thought we’d give it a try.”

Winkel and daughter Natalia Taylor’s booth also will offer metallic tattoos. Tooth crystals, which are “really tiny,” hang on up to a year, Winkel said, but they also can be removed with dental floss. The tattoos will last four days – or the length of the fair – “especially if you don’t bathe,” Winkel said.

Fairgoers not looking to add sparkle to their smiles might check out chain mail jewelry, accessories and tops crafted by Daniel Keifer of Juneau. Keifer said five years ago he found himself with some spare time and a spool of wire on hand. “I was thinking, ‘What can I do with this stuff?’ I found out I had a knack for it.”

He makes round links of different sizes and gauges of wire to create patterns he fashions into bracelets, necklaces, sachets, and halter and bikini tops. “They are the ultimate underwire,” Keifer joked. He also makes sterling silver jewelry and copper bracelets. “Eighty percent of my stuff can be worn by either sex.”

“Made in Haines” is a new trade booth featuring locally made products by residents Rosalie Loewen, Debi Knight Kennedy, Genny Rietze and Gina St. Clair. “I don’t think any one of us could carry a booth on our own, so I put out a call on Facebook,” Loewen said. “(The fair) is a great business incubator when you’re small and trying to see if you can have a bigger business.”

There are 39 retail and information vendors.


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