Tanana Valley State Fair

In preparation for opening day of the Tanana Valley State Fair, Rene Markson unfurls a banner on the roof of Professional Portrait Buttons, her family’s business stand. Many people make a tradition of getting photo buttons from one of two long-running booths at the fair, which is open today through Aug. 11. Aug. 1, 2019. Robin Wood for the News-Miner

With a little tradition and a little swashbuckling, the 95th Tanana Valley State Fair opens today.

The 2019 edition of the fair, which has the theme “Love is a Cattle Field,” will be open for 10 days. Fair hours are from noon-midnight Fridays and Saturdays; noon-10 p.m. Aug. 4, and Monday-Thursday. The last day of the fair, Aug. 11, the fairgrounds open at noon and close at the conclusion of a fireworks show, which will begin at 11 p.m.

Tanana Valley State Fair

John Smith preps apples for opening day of the Tanana Valley State Fair at his booth on Thursday afternoon. Smith runs Anchorage-based company Dulce De Apple, which offers sliced apples served with homemade caramel. The fair opens today and runs through August 11. Aug. 1, 2019. Robin Wood for the News-Miner

There will be pirates aplenty at this year’s fair. Operations Manager Karen Lane describes one of the headliners, Pirates For Hire, as a “great group of people” who travel worldwide for their shows.

On each day of the fair, they’re putting on “Pirates — A Live Action Sword Fighting Adventure Comedy Pirate Show,” and they’ll also be available around the fairgrounds for selfies. So, don’t be surprised if you see a Jack Sparrow lookalike walking by booths.

The other 2019 headliner is “The Fearless Flores Family Thrill Show” out of Florida.  Fairgoers may recognizes the Flores family from NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” 

Musicians include local funk ’70s tribute band Shagg, rockers John Shewfelt Jr. and Shot Time, Uncle Kracker, Marc Brown and the Blues Crew, Dawn McClain, Rose’s Pawn Shop, Clarence Pate Project and more. There might even be an Elvis or four.

Exhibitions, rides, games, kids activities and magic shows will be available around the fairgrounds. Foam parties are an addition to this year’s roster.

Tanana Valley State Fair

Four-year-old Melody (left) and six-year-old Lillian keep a watchful eye on a duck outside animal registration at the Tanana Valley State Fair on Thursday. The fair is open today through Aug. 11. Aug. 1, 2019. Robin Wood for the News-Miner

“It’s these kind of like swimming pools, big swimming pools, but it doesn’t have a bottom on it and they fill it with foam and you just go in and play with the foam,” Lane said.

Karaoke is back by popular demand, according to Lane, and there will be more sessions this time around.

As always, there will be food, vendors and animals. The Pet Show takes place at 1 p.m. Saturday followed a few hours later by the Dachshund Dash, the race strictly for our wiener dog friends.

The fairground barns will be filled with rabbits, goats, birds and various livestock. 4-H kids and Future Farmers of America members will be showing their livestock, along with open livestock belonging to each group.  Lane added there will be two horse shows, a horse clinic and some demonstrations, which will include animal hypnosis and sheep shearing.

“So there’s going to be a lot going on back at the barns and the arena,” Lane said.

Tanana Valley State Fair

Workers hang speakers at the Usibelli Pavilion Stage in preparation for opening day of the Tanana Valley State Fair, which runs today through Aug. 11. Aug.1 2019. Robin Wood for the News-miner

General admission is $10 for adults, and $5 for seniors and ages 5-17. A season pass costs $40 for adults and $20 for seniors and ages 5-17.

Some of the fair’s daily themes will mean discounted entry prices.

Today is Mining Day. Saturday is Community Wellness Day. Sunday is Alaska Heritage Day, followed by Kid’s Day on Monday, where kids under 12 will gain free entry to the fair until 7 p.m. As a new feature of Kid’s Day, children shorter than 42 inches will be allowed to ride the under 42-inch rides for free.

Tuesday is UAF Day, where those with University of Alaska Fairbanks ID cards or sporting university apparel will get $1 off admission. Wednesday is Senior Day, when seniors 60 and older will be granted free entry and a senior luncheon will be held at noon.

Thursday is Canned Food Day. If you bring four cans of food, you’ll get in free, but remember, it’s four cans per person, not per group.

Aug. 9, is Military Appreciation Day, so if you come with a military ID, it will be $7 for adults to enter the fair and $3 for youths and seniors.

Aug. 10 is Golden Heart Spotlight Day, while Sunday, the fair’s final day, is Family Day.

“So on Family Day, two adults and four youth get in for $30,” Lane said.  The discount will apply to immediate family.

Contact staff writer Kyrie Long at 459-7572. Follow her on Twitter at: twitter.com/FDNMlocal

Locations