A bright year at the 2023 fair

Palmer, Alaska (KINY) -While the skies were mostly gray, it was a bright year for the Alaska State Fair, marked by strong attendance, new records, and sold-out concerts and special events.

Fair Attendance was strong this year and increased from the 2022 Fair. It was also a record-setting year for concert ticket sales. The 2023 AT&T Concert Series at the ConocoPhillips Borealis Theatre featured 13 acts, including sell-out performances by Noah Kahan and Yung Gravy.

As perennial Fair favorites, the Demolition Derby and All-Star Monster Truck shows also entertained sell-out audiences.

Staying true to its deep agricultural roots, the Fair had no shortage of highlights from the Craig Taylor Farm Exhibits. Continuing its record-setting trend, the 4-H Junior Market Livestock Auction featured the sale of 107 animals.

This year’s event raised $510,000 for 4-H youth, exceeding last year’s $419,957 fundraising total.

Exhibit entries increased in 2023, with 2,011 exhibitors submitting 7,506 entries in departments including livestock, poultry, flowers, sewing, art, quilts, fiber, and many more.

Crops exhibitors showcased the fruits of their labor at 2023 Fair, setting four new state records, including hot pepper, leak, rhubarb, and horseradish.

A 2,023.5-pound pumpkin took first place in the 17th Alaska’s Midnight Sun Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off, while a 113-pound cabbage earned top honors at the 27th Annual Giant Cabbage Weigh-Off.

In partnership with the Department of Natural Resources Division of Agriculture, the Fair honored Bo Varsano and Marja Smets as the 2023 Farm Family of the Year.

Varsano and Smets own and operate Farragut Farm, located approximately 35 miles north of Petersburg by boat.

The Gathering Place venue was once again a hub for performances, demonstrations, and vendors focused on showcasing and celebrating Alaska Native culture.

Artists, performers, elders, craftspeople, and Fair visitors came together to enjoy a wide range of cultural events, including traditional dance performances, interactive storytelling, seal skinning and tasting, Native Youth Olympics competitions, and more.

In addition to educating and entertaining fairgoers, supporting the community is also a central part of the Fair’s mission.

The Fair demonstrated that through the 2023 food drives, collecting a total of 4,334 pounds of shelf-stable food items at the gates for the Mat-Su Food Bank. Through the Alaska State Fair Recycles initiative, 36.2 tons of aluminum, plastic, paper, steel, and cardboard were collected at the 2023 Fair.

Since 2002, recycling efforts at the Fair have diverted 424.9 tons of material from the landfill.

“I appreciate everyone who came out to enjoy the 2023 Alaska State Fair. People of all ages were drawn here for the great entertainment, carnival rides, animals, events, and activities,” said Fair CEO Jeff Curtis. “Behind this success is a combined team of talented staff and volunteers and a supportive statewide community. On behalf of the Fair, thank you. We are excited to bring you another wonderful event in 2024.”

Planning is already underway for the 2024 Fair, which is scheduled for Aug. 16 – Sept. 2.