Kenai Peninsula Fair goers caught one of the few sunny days this month as they “Partied ‘til the Pigs Came Home!” And for a few lucky bidders at the 4-H Junior Market Livestock (JML) auction they actually took their pig home. “That’s called bringing home the bacon,” said Fair manager Lara McGinnis. “I’ve technically been manager for 36 Fair days and I’d say maybe four or five of those have been sunny. So we were very happy Saturday,” Lara told the Dispatch. Many of the renovations and changes at Fair grounds have been made to deal with the wet weather, “We rearranged our livestock area and put the 4-H JML auction kids under a roof so they don’t get rained on, we’ve added paved handicapped walkways so no more walking through the puddles and created an art exhibit area that is amazing and have done many fabulous things over the last 12 years to deal with the rain so it figures this year we’d have a beautiful sunny Saturday, but I can’t say the same for Friday and Sunday,” she said.
The sunshine turned out a huge crowd for the JML auction with many new bidders that caused prices to rebound after last year’s decline. “The kids worked hard this year making new contacts and visiting new business owners and it paid off,” said Cassy Rankin, 4-H leader of the North Road Rangers. There were 30 4-H members that sold their animals at auction this year with Emily Werner completing her 10th straight year at JML, “She started in the 3rd grade and did it every year since. That’s kind of neat and hasn’t happened in a while,” reported JML leader Paul Werner.
The auction started with the traditional Community Support Animal which this year was a pen of three chickens raised by Katie Cooper. In recent years the proceeds have gone to specific projects such as a local girl needing brain surgery, a Ninilchik man with cancer and an 8-year-old boy battling leukemia just to mention a few. This year the $1,395 dollars that was raised from the chickens will go the local Wounded Heroes program.
This year’s Fair was bigger than ever with something for everyone, “We had so much going on this year when we came up with the theme Party ‘til the Pigs come Home we made sure we had the best part ever happening at the Fair. We had Princess Tea Parties, Pig parties, vendor parties, music parties, Pokémon Go lures and everywhere you looked there was a party going on,” said McGinnis. The Rodeo featured Roman Riders plus all the rough and tumble, roping and bull riding action. McGinnis added that due to the economic down turn she will be leaving the job of her heart and this will be her last year as Fair manager.
The improved Fair grounds has also opened up the facilities to other events throughout the year, “We are available for anything from weddings to music festivals and everything in-between. Any group that is wanting to host those type of events we have a place for them and they can contact us and we’ll work with them to make a great event for them,” added McGinnis.