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FAIRBANKS - Homegrown goods, amusement rides, farm animals and endless concessions collide at the Tanana Valley State Fair each August.
Each year during Fairbanks’ rainiest season, the oldest fair in Alaska brings cheer to thousands of people.
This years’ fair, themed “The Age of Asparagus,” runs Aug. 3 through Aug. 12.
General Manager Randi Carnahan explained the theme is important for setting the tone of the fair each year.
“Our themes are generally agriculture- or livestock-based because that’s the foundation of the fair,” she said.
The theme, colors (yellow, orange and green this year) and flower (zinnias for 2012) are often inspiration for fair booths’ decorations. Carnahan said she wouldn’t be surprised to see asparagus everywhere this August.
The fair started in 1924 and grew over time from just three days to 10, new this year.
This year will be the 81st fair, since a few were canceled over the years, including years during the Great Depression and World War II.
The fair opened in its current location at 1800 College Road in 1952.
People go to the fair to compete in perishable entry contests with their garden-grown goods or participate in culinary competitions, including a bake-off.
They go to taste test every available fair food, including the standard turkey leg or funnel cake, or watch the performances from local and out-of-state talent — last year’s performances included a sword swallower.
“For every person you ask why they go to the fair, you’re going to get a different answer,” Carnahan said. “One thing we always shoot for is to have something for everybody.”
Traditional highlights include the largest cabbage contest, livestock displays, a talent search, baby show and discount days for children and military members.
Some of the newer and not-to-be-missed highlights include an antique tractor pull, “Dancing With the Fairbanks Stars” and a barbecue cook-off.
Every year, the fair ends with a fireworks display.
Fair entrance is $10 per adult and $5 per senior and child.
Children under 5 years old can get in free. Season passes are $35 and $20 for seniors and children.
There is plenty of free parking at the College Road site, but the lot can fill up on popular nights.