The recent slashes to the state budget have the potential to affect nearly every corner of the state, including the arts and humanities.
To meet these challenges, the Triumvirate Theatre troupe in north Kenai have taken matters into their own hands — and have something special growing for locals.
The group will host Farm Fest 2019 this Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. at Ridgeway Farms on Strawberry Road, just off the Kenai Spur Highway.
The fest will benefit the theater group, which lost about 10% from its operating budget this year, according to event organizer Joe Rizzo.
Rizzo said the loss of the Alaska State Council on the Arts, a victim of the recent budget cuts, hit Triumvirate significantly. The theater company received about $10,000 to $15,000 of its total operating budget of around $130,000 from the council.
“Triumvirate took a big hit when they wiped that out,” Rizzo said. “We worked with those guys a lot … We’re having to make up for it.”
In order to make up the deficit, Rizzo said he came up with the idea of Farm Fest, which he hopes can be an annual event.
“I’ve been thinking of doing this for years,” he said.
So why a farm-themed event for a theater group? Ridgeway Farm, which sits off the Kenai Spur Highway, is owned by Harry and Abby Ala, close friends of Rizzo. After knocking around the idea for a few years, Rizzo said he told the Alas that this summer would be the best time to put it together.
“I grew up on the Alas’ farm,” he said. “Harry and Abby are very close friends of mine, and they have a farm that is available and for free.”
The day promises to be a good one, Rizzo said. Admission is free and live music will entertain guests all day, with notes from Mario Carboni — aka the “Honky Tonk Rebel” — Matt Boyle and Chris Pepper, among others.
Another feature will be the vegetable-tasting table, with food grown and picked directly from the farm itself available for people to sample to their heart’s content.
In addition to an assortment of hay rides, a petting zoo, pony rides, a bounce house, hot cocoa and s’mores, at least one food truck — a meatball truck operated by Triumvirate actor Joe Spady — and carnival games, Rizzo added one last thing.
“We’ll have a unicorn,” he said. “The only unicorn in existence.”
Rizzo wouldn’t elaborate further on the unicorn appearance, but said people will have to come out to see for themselves.