From attendance and concert ticket sales to exhibit entries and recycling, the Alaska State Fair continued its upward trend this year. The 2015 Fair was held August 27 – September 7 at the fairgrounds in Palmer.
Most notable was estimated attendance, which increased to 299,698 this year, compared to 293,827 last year and 288,499 in 2013. Advance admission sales, including tickets purchased online and at Costco and Three Bears, were up significantly this year, with 65,294 tickets purchased in advance in 2015, compared to 56,417 last year and 46,464 in 2013. Following the historic norm, Saturday was the most popular day to visit the Fair, with attendance of 45,059 on the first Saturday and 41,899 the second.
Concert ticket sales were also up, with 31,986 tickets sold in 2015, compared to 28,262 tickets last year. Concertgoers were most excited to see Lee Brice and Jason Derulo, with 5,188 and 5,155 tickets sold respectively.
“We thank everyone who played a role in making the Fair happen, and we thank our loyal customers for coming out to enjoy it. It’s because of you that we had another successful year,” said Jerome Hertel, Fair general manager.
Other areas of growth at the 2015 Fair include:
- Exhibit entries. The 9,054 entries were up from 8,253 last year, and marked the highest number of entries in the past 10 years. Flowers and crops were the two most popular categories, with 2,009 and 1,434 entries respectively.
- Recycling numbers. Volunteers collected 34,953 pounds, or 17.5 tons, of recyclable material, including plastics, cardboard, mixed/office and newspaper, aluminum, steel cans and glass. This was up from the 31,121 pounds collected last year.
- 4-H Junior Market Livestock Auction. A total of 97 youth participated in this year’s event, which raised $210,681. This was an increase from 77 youth and $155,666 last year.
- Golden Wheel Amusements had 32 rides at the Fair this year, including two new attractions: the Rave, a spinning thrill ride, and the Clown Around, a new ride for the little ones. There were 11 midway games and seven food wagons, with the Black Diamond Coffee Company as the newest addition.
Additional highlights from the 2015 Fair include:
- There were 488 vendors at the Fair, including 68 food vendors.
- Steve Hubacek took first place in the 20th annual Giant Cabbage Weigh-Off with his 92.10-pound entry. Brian Shunskis claimed second place with a 83.85-pounder, and third place went to Keevan Dinkel and his 75.20-pound cabbage.
- Two new state records were set, including a 4.50-pound tomato grown by Patrick White of Soldotna, and a 24-inch sunflower head entered by Melanie San Angelo of Anchorage.
- Fairgoers showed their generosity to neighbors in need, donating 13,500 pounds of food and $1,200 in cash during the Fair food drive benefiting Mat-Su Food Bank. The Fair also donated 665 pounds of fresh vegetables to the Food Bank.
- A total of 2,427 students in grades kindergarten to fifth grade participated in Fair educational programs, in a continued demonstration of the Fair’s commitment to entertainment and education.
- The Gathering Place: Celebrating Alaska Native Heritage marked its second year at the Fair. All regions of Alaska were represented at The Gathering Place, which featured 38 Alaska Native dance group performances, 23 Alaska Native artisans, 13 storytelling concerts, 10 Alaska Native games demonstrations, and nine music concerts.
It will be a year of celebration at the fairgrounds in 2016, with the Alaska State Fair celebrating its 80th birthday and Golden Wheel Amusements marking 50 years of entertaining Alaskans. The 2016 Fair is scheduled for August 25 – September 5.