Public, pigs prepare to party at Kenai Peninsula Fair

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Thursday, August 18, 2016 7:22pm
  • News

Twelve years of perfecting and refining the art of entertainment will culminate at the Kenai Peninsula Fair this weekend, through the scheduled slew of musical performances, rodeo shows, rides and competitions set to wow crowds Friday through Sunday at the Ninilchik Fairgrounds.

Executive Director Lara McGinnis said she has made sure this year’s “Party ‘til The Pigs Come Home” festivities encapsulate everything the fair has been doing right for the past decade.

“We’ve got something for everyone. The party is whatever you make of it,” McGinnis said. “We’ve got music, we’ve got dancing, we’ve got the rodeo and MMA fighting. There is just so much going on that is can’t be looked at as anything but a great big party.”

As usual, the plethora of activities will include an eclectic mix of local and Outside, old and new, from photo booths to more than 100 food, Alaska Native Arts and Crafts and merchant vendors, to 60,000 pounds of carnival rides, there isn’t enough time in one day to hit up everything, she said.

Appropriately, the fair’s famed Pig Races are one of the first events to start off the celebration at 1 p.m. Friday.

Before and after the races, each day younger audiences can spruce themselves up at a new event, Princess Tea, McGinnis said. Girls will get the chance to come dress like and hang out with their favorite Disney characters including Belle, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Elsa and Cinderella, all inside a replica castle, McGinnis said.

Attendees will also have many chances to catch another fresh act by Orlando-based Antwan Towner, who has toured the Lower 48 circuit as a magician.

“His stuff is all brain games,” McGinnis said. “He is a mentalist. It is a trip to watch. You can’t really describe it until you’ve engaged with him. You’ve got to see it to believe it.”

There will be only one opportunity to catch the fair’s two biggest musical performances this year, country stars Branch & Dean at 7 p.m. Friday, best known for their song “The Dash,” and back by popular demand is the American a cappella group Home Free at 7 p.m. Saturday.

They are two shows “I wouldn’t miss,” McGinnis said.

Local Alaskan favorites Conway Seavey, Blackwater Railroad Company and Hobo Jim will takes to the stages Friday and Sunday, McGinnis said. Hot Mess, Ukulele Russ and JunoSmile are a few others coming in from around the state to tune things up, she said.

Throughout the day the main stage will have a variety of other musical acts scheduled, many of whom may just be starting their musical careers, McGinnis said.

“My policy is if anyone under 18 (years old) asks for the opportunity to sing on my stage, we put them there,” McGinnis said. “If they are brave enough to be there, we will do what we can to get them there.”

McGinnis also advises everyone make sure they make it to the rodeo. For anyone actually looking to take part in the liveliness, try the Hamster ball games, McGinnis said.

The life-size apparatus will be suspended in water, and it will be up to the players to battle the waves and move themselves in the right direction, she said.

Two competitions that make the annual event truly Alaskan are the Backwoods Girl and the Round Hauling competitions.

At the former, female candidates are expected to prove their homesteading skills by cooking, chopping wood, carrying water and care for their babies.

At the latter, new or experienced fishermen can test their strength by reeling in various weights.

“It really captures our fishing heritage,” McGinnis said.

Other unusual activities, that have also become a part of the foundation of the fair are Brad’s World Reptiles the Fiber Arts and Food Preservation stations and for the first time Fight Night at 9 p.m. Friday.

McGinnis said she sought out Power Plant Productions to bring MMA fights and boxing to the arena this year because of a growing local trend.

“The fair is all about connecting with people trying to bring in things new or different things each year,” she said.

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To ease those connections, kids get in free Friday with the donation of 5 pounds or more for the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank, sponsored by BP, and Sunday is Senior Day, where tickets for the elderly are only $3, McGinnis said.

Reach Kelly Sullivan at

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