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Arts and Entertainment

What’s new, what to do at the Alaska State Fair

  • Author: Zakiya McCummings
  • Updated: August 24, 2017
  • Published August 17, 2017

The Alaska State Fair on Aug. 23, 2012. (Loren Holmes / Alaska Dispatch News)

The Alaska State Fair has packed its schedule full of fun activities and concerts to send the summer off with a bang.

According to the state fair, about 294,500 Alaskans made their way to the fairgrounds in Palmer last year for carnival rides, cotton candy and barbecued turkey legs. This year, attendees will find some new attractions, including two new food vendors: Crepe de Paris, serving up sweet and savory crepes along the green trail, and Rebel Riders Roundup, serving burgers and dogs on the yellow trail.

Here are some highlights — from classic attractions like the Lumberjack Show to newcomers like the Silent Disco Party. Visit alaskastatefair.org for full event listings.

A giant pumpkin comes up clean as it is inspected at the Alaska State Fair pumpkin weigh-off on Tuesday afternoon, August 30, 2016, in Palmer. It went on to weigh in at a new state record of 1469 lb. for Dale Marshall of Anchorage, center. The record broke the mark of 1287 lb. held by J.D. Megchelsen of Nikiski, set in 2011. (Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News)

Fair favorites

Giant pumpkin and cabbage weigh off

The heaviest cabbage ever recorded anywhere in the world was a 138.25-pound monster grown by Scott A. Robb in Palmer in 2012. Cabbage and gourd growers from around the state will compete for the chance to write their name in the history books. Check out their produce and cheer on the big efforts of the littlest growers in the junior division.

Pumpkin weigh-off is 2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 29, and cabbage weigh-off is 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1 at farm exhibits

Demolition Derby

Whose vehicle can withstand the most damage? The annual demolition derby returns and promises to be a loud, fast-paced display of destruction. $12 for ages 13+, $8 for kids age 6-12. Kids under 5 get in free.

Friday, Sept 1, Ram Truck Grandstand, 6 p.m.

Bobby Berg, representing Camp Palmer, left, and Marvin Weeks, representing Camp Wasilla, show the strain of competing in the cross cut saw event as audience members shout encouragement at the Fred Scheer’s Lumberjack Show on Friday, August 22, 2014, at the Alaska State Fair. Weeks claimed glory for Wasilla in the event. (Erik Hill / ADN archive 2014)

Lumberjack Show

Performing daily, Spenard Builder's Supply Woodlot, 1 p.m, 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Watch world-champion lumberjacks battle it out in the "Olympics of the Forest," while comedy routines keep everyone laughing. This fast-paced show features the same events showcased in ESPN's Great Outdoor Games and the Lumberjack World Championships.

Sluicebox Tavern

The Sluicebox is the state fair's most popular bar and home to nightly live entertainment. Performers this year include The Last Bandoleros, Savannah Jack, Doo-Wah Riders, Marty Brown, Rae Gordon Band, Ken Peltier Band, Hobo Jim and Lulu Small.

Live music nightly, red trail

Byron Nicholai of Toksook Bay is flung into the air in the blanket toss at the Gathering Place on Saturday evening, September 3, 2016, at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. Nicholai, who just finished high school, is known for mixing traditional and modern music on YouTube and on his Facebook page I Sing. You Dance. (Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News)

Exhibits and events

Culture talks with Irene Bedard

Irene Bedard is an Alaska Native and First Nations actress who voiced Pocahontas in Disney's 1995 animated film and starred in the 1998 film "Smoke Signals." She'll conduct a series of talks on aspects of Alaska Native culture and heritage with guests including: Samuel Johns, motivational speaker and founder of the Forget Me Not movement, on Aug. 24; Yupik singer and drummer Ossie Kairaiuak on Aug. 25; 2017 Miss Alaska Alyssa London on Aug. 26; Marjorie Tahbone, 2015 World Eskimo-Indian Olympics salmon filleting world champion, on Aug. 29.

On the Dena' Stage. Check alaskastatefair.org for times.

Silent Disco Party

Silent discos are popping up all around the country, and for the first time the Alaska State Fair is joining in. Silent Events, the company responsible for Bonnaroo's silent disco, will provides headphones and tunes. Free with fair admission.

8:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Aug.31-Sept. 2. Kids silent disco with Clifford the Big Red Dog will be on the same days at 5 p.m. All at the Borealis Plaza Tent.

Spirit – The 7th Fire of Alaska

Alaska Native Heritage Center, Alaska Dance Theatre and Theatre Artists United present three songs from their critically acclaimed production, "Spirit – The 7th Fire of Alaska." The play is an Alaska Native adaption of Peter Buffet's "Spirit: The 7th Fire."

1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 3, Dena' Stage

Stephen Blanchett, center, plays “the hero” and members of the Alaska Dance Theatre perform in Spirit – The 7th Fire of Alaska, a multicultural, multimedia theatrical experience that runs Feb. 20-22 in the Discovery Theatre at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts. Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015.

World of Music

This year's special exhibit features instruments and musical history from around the world. Hang out at the listening pods and check out educational exhibit stations.

Don Sheldon Events Center, open daily at 9 a.m; show times vary

For the kids

Kids' Day

For parents looking for a good deal, Kids' Day is the best time to head to the fair. Children 12 and under get in for free with the donation of two canned goods per child. There will be family friendly-activities taking place all around the fair. Make sure to take the kids to meet and greets with Daniel Tiger and Clifford the Big Red Dog at the Midway Carnival Stage.

All day Friday, Aug. 25

Kids Day Games

Children can compete in races and games like the wheelbarrow race, frog jump, potato sack Race and pie eating. Kids have a chance to win their very own ribbons and prizes. For children ages 5 to 9.

3 p.m. Aug. 25

Brad's World Reptiles

Visit the fair's annual reptile exhibit for a look at some of Earth's most fascinating creatures. Interact with live reptiles, amphibians and other exotic species from around the world. A great stop for any child who's an animal lover.

Opens 9 a.m. daily at the Matanuska Valley FCU Kid Zone; show times vary

Family Rest Stop

For parents looking for a quiet place to bring the kids in the chaos of the fair, head to the family rest stop on the south end of the red trail. This quiet space provides parents and kids a little reprieve from the noise and business of it all. Change diapers, breastfeed or simply let the kids run around and play.

Open daily, Raven Hall, red trail

Victoria Wallace and Brandon Wallace visit the goats at the petting zoo at the Alaska State Fair on Wednesday, August 28, 2013 in Palmer, Alaska. (Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News)

Petting zoo

Stopping at the farm exhibits is a must for many families. After checking out all the adult livestock, head to the petting zoo to mingle with all the baby animals. Kids will get the chance to interact with baby goats, pigs and more.

Open daily, farm exhibits, noon-8 p.m.

Concerts

Home Free

Home Free is a country a cappella group that won season four of NBC's reality-singing competition, "The Sing-Off." Since then, they've released four studio albums and become an internationally touring act. $25 plus fair admission.

7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24, Borealis Theatre

Josh Turner

A multi-platinum-selling country singer based in Nashville, Tennessee, Josh Turner is one of the youngest people invited to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. His hits include "Your Man," "Time Is Love" and "Why Don't We Just Dance," as well as current Top 20 country hit, "Hometown Girl." $35 for lawn; $55 for reserved seating (plus fair admission).

7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26, Borealis Theatre

Iggy Azalea

Australian rapper Iggy Azalea rose to prominence in 2013 with her debut single, "Work." Since then she's released the No. 1 hit "Fancy" with Charli XCX and toured internationally promoting her first album, "The New Classic." Her sophomore album, "Digital Distortion," is set to be released later this year. $40 for lawn; $55 for reserved seating (plus fair admission).

6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 27, Borealis Theatre

Third Eye Blind

Alt-rock mainstays Third Eye Blind first arrived on the music scene 20 years ago. Since forming in 1996 the band his released five albums, including their six-time platinum self-titled LP. Their biggest hits include "Semi-Charmed Life," "Jumper" and "How's It Going to Be." in 2016, the band released the EP "We are Drugs." $35 for lawn; $55 for reserved seating (plus fair admission).

7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1, Borealis Theatre

DNCE

Originally a collaboration between Joe Jonas and former Jonas Brothers drummer Jack Lawless, DNCE is a high energy dance-rock band based in Los Angeles. The group achieved mainstream success with their top 10 single, "Cake By the Ocean." The band recently toured with Selena Gomez and released the track "Kissing Strangers" with Nicki Minaj.  $45 for lawn; $60 for reserved seating (plus fair admission).

3 p.m. Monday, Sept. 4, Borealis Theatre

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