Wednesday, August 29, 2007
One of the Alaska State Fairs
Alaska has some understandable “big state” dilemmas. (No, not like Texas… they’ve just had a Napolean complex since Alaska got its own two senators in 1958.) Alaska has problems like: “Where should the capital be, since every city is a multiple-day journey from the rest of the state?” (They settle that by choosing the city that is most inaccessible to the most people.) Also: “Which communities should we spend our billions building roads to?” (This was solved by halting all road construction and concentrating on maintaining the three short roads they’ve got.) Another dilemma was to figure out where to hold the state fair. If they hold it in the state capitol, as in most states, no one could go. So, many communities proposed they host the state fair and an all out Olympic bid war began. The result is more state fairs than you can count, most of then no more notable than a county festival in rural nowhere.
I’ve passed opportunities to see the “Tanana Valley State Fair” and the “Kenai State Fair” just in the last week, holding out for the state fair near Anchorage (the states biggest city, weighing in at 500,000 souls). The “Alaska State Fair” is held in Palmer, a nearby community. Solveig and I went to take in the sights and the food, and I realized how spoiled my fair tastes have been as a long-time attendant of the Great Minnesota Get-Together.
We ate cream puffs, tamales, cookies, garlic potato chips, dippin’ dots, chewy sweet corn, and free water. But, I missed my hometown’s Sweet Martha’s, pickle-on-a-stick, Wisconsin cheese curds, Minnesota sweet corn, and all-you-can-drink milk. However, the tamales at the Palmer fair were the best I’ve found outside Mexico- impressive considering Palmer’s distance from the Rio Grande.
The pig racers came up from the Kenai (some shows cannot pick their fair allegiance), and watching pigs ears and tails flop as they sprint around a track is pretty hysterical. Lumberjacks came up from Wisconsin to do a “lumber sports” show, but I was sad that Alaska didn’t have some cabin-building woodchoppers to throw into the mix.
The big pig wasn’t as big as the one in Minnesota, but it was actively in labor when we went by the pen—with a piglet-catching attendant and everything. The live infomercials were excellent enough for a man with a fake foreign accent to convince Solveig to buy a Magical Star Fiber Mop. And, perhaps the saving grace of the whole scene was a couple sixty+ pound cabbages. Texas has never seen that much coleslaw.