Southeast Alaska State Fair
53rd fair starts Thursday
July 21, 2022
Haines' biggest celebration in three years - the 53rd annual Southeast Alaska State Fair - will kick off Thursday featuring a "Salmon Enchanted Evening" theme and more than five dozen vendors.
With the Canadian border open and covid restrictions eased, fair staff are anticipating significantly higher turnout than last year, when attendance was down about 60% from usual. The fair was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.
"We are expecting a much bigger crowd this year. Just based on trying to find housing - it's definitely filling up quite a bit," said fair executive director Kari Johnson.
The fair begins with a flag-raising and singing of the national anthem at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, July 28, at Payson's Pavilion.
The four-day festival features rides, contests, commercial booths, libations, dinners, desserts and live entertainment on two stages.
Perennial fair-goers will recognize many of the attractions and contests this year, like Southeast's Got Talent, the logging show, wearable art review and commercial fisherman's rodeo.
The volleyball tournament will return after a two-year hiatus. New additions include a clown named Bonzo and science projects for children.
"We're doing a lot more stuff at the kids area," Johnson said. "We haven't done a lot of entertainment there (in the past). So that's definitely new."
The carousel and Ferris wheel will be up and running, along with the train, climbing wall and jousting. Inflatables like the bounce house will be out for those who enjoy springing around.
There will be 68 vendors, up from only 19 last year. Johnson said there's even a waiting list for vendors, "which hasn't happened for a long time."
The food scene will be a mix of new and old. Grandma Pete's cheesecake and Tracey Harmon's new Frog Lady Fish Company food truck will be there, along with Travis Kukull's Malo Nista, the Benassis' Chili Today Hot Tamale and Robert Chadwell's poke bowls.
"And cotton candy, of course," Johnson said, among many other food options.
Some covid mitigation measures will be in place, like closure of the Klondike Saloon and adjoining stage, limited activities inside Harriett Hall and encouraged social distancing.
But restrictions will be less stringent than last year, when the night schedule was shortened, volleyball was canceled and children's activities were limited.
Off-site fair events include a Saturday morning fun run and the annual state fair parade, starting 11 a.m. on Main Street at Sixth Avenue. Registration is at 10:30 a.m. at Thor's Fitness.
"If you want to get in for free, volunteer," Johnson said. "We run pretty much solely on volunteers. We only have a few staff members."
Fair gates open at 11:30 a.m. Saturday and noon on other days. A four-day fair pass costs $50 for adults, $30 for senior citizens and teens ages 13-17. For more information, call the fair at 766-2476 or go to http://www.seakfair.org.