Haines is getting ready for a weekend full of music, food and Ferris wheels. The 49th annual Southeast Alaska State Fair takes place Thursday through Sunday.
“It’s gonna be hard to see everything that you want to see this year at the fair,” said fair director Jessica Edwards.
She’s the leading force behind the four-day event which brings people from around the region and state to Haines.
“I really feel like I have a smile on my face the whole four days of the fair just doing the work that I’m doing,” Edwards said. “It’s a busy time but it’s just really joyful to see people having fun.”
The fun includes a few new events. One of them is sure to boost the fair’s cuteness factor.
“We have a lot of excitement around this,” Edwards said. “It’s called the dinky doggy derby.”
The dinky doggy derby. It’s a race for dogs 30 pounds or under.
“We have seen people training out there in Ravens Arena,” Edwards said. “So, taking it pretty seriously.”
There’s also a most loveable dog contest. Humans can compete too, in everything from the fisherman’s rodeo to a new strong man and woman contest.
On Monday, Jack Smith Jr. and Sr. were setting up for the logging show. One important piece: a new log for the log rolling contest.
“So it rolls this year, because it didn’t roll very good last year,” said Jack Smith Jr. “It sat there and got water-logged and didn’t want to go in a circle.”
Smith says the sedentary log took some of the drama out of the lumberjack competition.
Fair staff and volunteers are making other improvements as well. The carousel went through a thorough refurbishment. The main stage sound system is getting an upgrade.
Edwards thinks that will make a big difference for dozens of musicians.
The two primary headliners at this year’s fair are the Eric Krasno Band and Delhi to Dublin.
“I feel like we’re going to get a lot of people’s happy music place over the weekend, with those two,” Edwards said.
Other headliners include Trampled by Turtles singer Dave Simonett, New Sound Underground and Jon Wayne and the Pain. Edwards says the fair is also incorporating more rap acts like Onry Ozzborn.
“HomeSkillet was a big Sitka festival that focused on rap and hip hop music and they closed last year, there was not more HomeSkillet,” Edwards said. “So we feel like we also have to bring that genre in for people who appreciate it.”
Headliners perform Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. But there will be music and other kinds of entertainment throughout each day, including a talent show, breakdancing troupe and wearable art show.
Edwards says wearable art is one of the few craft exhibits in which entries are actually increasing.
And then, there’s the food.
“Lots of food this year,” Edwards said. “A whole food court is springing up over by the park stage. Also new this year, we’ll have a wine garden, where you can get wine in actual glasses.”
Near the wine garden, you’ll find fried cheese curds and fish and chips. On the other side of the fairgrounds, at the main food court, fan favorites like samosas and corn on the cob will be back.
As for the weather forecast, Edwards says all they can do is hope this cold, rainy summer gives way to sunshine for Haines’ biggest event of the year.