Kenai Peninsula fair returns this weekend

4-H club members guide their pigs around the barnyard during hog confirmation judging at the Kenai Peninsula State Fair in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Peninsula Clarion file photo)

The Kenai Peninsula racing pigs will be running through a “Tunnel of Fun” at this year’s Kenai Peninsula Fair in Ninilchik.

The annual three-day event returns to the Ninilchik fairgrounds this Friday with a “Tunnel of Fun” theme.

“We have all our traditional events, the carnival, the rodeo, the pony rides,” Melissa Clark, the fair’s executive director said. “There is basically something for everyone.”

There will be live music all weekend long with headliners Austin Ellis and Megan Linsey, who were both on the television show “The Voice,” as well as Alaska’s own balladeer Hobo Jim.

Tickets to the fair are $12 for adults and $6 for youths and seniors, but are all inclusive and allow visitors access to nearly all of the attractions, excluding carnival rides.

“We’re not charging to see any of the entertainment, we really want to make this an all-inclusive king of thing,” Clark said. “It should be a lot of fun. … We really want to cut down expenses for everybody to let more people come in.”

This year’s exhibit hall, according to Clark, will be filled wall to wall with displays of local passions from the past year. The exhibits could include horticulture, flowers, food preservation, baked goods, sewing, needlework, ceramics, pottery, photography, woodworking, crafts, quilting, fiber arts, and Alaska Native arts and crafts.

“It seems like there will be more than ever,” Clark said. “People are enthusiastic and passionate about what they’re entering. … It’s a chance for people to enter what they’ve worked on or growing this year.”

The rodeo ring will be just as full as the exhibition hall, with the Alaska High School Rodeo Association organizing several activities throughout the weekend. The Friday night jackpot will begin at 7 p.m., the Saturday grand entry will take place a 5 p.m. and the Sunday grant entry will be at 2 p.m.

The rodeo association will also be organizing a pie booth to raise fund for the high school rodeo team.

“All the proceeds go to paying for our insurance,” Kathleen Kitson, the national director of the Alaska High School Rodeo Association and the secretary for the fair, said. “We pay insurance for every rodeo, to cover medical if anyone gets injured, so we’re selling pies and desserts. … It has traditionally been a pie booth, but we’re branching out to include more.”

The association will also hosting a performance on Saturday and a reining performance on Sunday morning.

“And we’ll have some demonstrations set up throughout the weekend,” Kitson said, including a roping dummy to practice on and some stick horse barrel races.

“We’re just going to do some fun stuff,” Kitson said.

The fair also welcomes local 4-H groups for the 4-H Junior Market League auction, which will feature pigs, sheep, turkeys, chickens and steer for sale. Kids from all over the peninsula have been working all year long to ready their homegrown animals to bring farm fresh meat to the auction, according to Cassy Rankin of the 4-H North Road Rangers.

The auction is open to everyone and there will be a free barbecue for all buyers immediately following the auction, Rankin said.

“I’m really excited about the racing pigs,” Clark said, and the feeling is mutual.

The lauded spectacle will put the pigs to the test several times throughout the weekend, with races taking place daily at 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.

The fair opens its gates on Friday at 11 a.m. and runs until 10 p.m. that night. On Saturday, the grounds are open from 10 a.m. to 9 .m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Reach Kat Sorensen at kat.sorensen@peninsulaclarion.com.

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