A Bright Year at the 2023 Fair
Attendance was strong at the Alaska State Fair this year despite gray skies and rainy weather.
Highlights of the 2023 Alaska State Fair include strong attendance, record concert ticket sales, record-setting crop entries, and a new high for money raised in the 4-H livestock auction.
Highlighting Agriculture and Local Makers
While the skies were mostly gray, it was a bright year for the Alaska State Fair, marked by strong attendance, new records, and sold-out concerts and special events.
Fair attendance was strong this year and increased from the 2022 fair. It was also a record-setting year for concert ticket sales. The 2023 AT&T Concert Series at the ConocoPhillips Borealis Theatre featured thirteen acts, including sell-out performances by Noah Kahan and Yung Gravy. As perennial fair favorites, the Demolition Derby and All-Star Monster Truck shows also entertained sell-out audiences.
Staying true to its deep agricultural roots, the fair had no shortage of highlights from the Craig Taylor Farm Exhibits. Continuing its record-setting trend, the 4-H Junior Market Livestock Auction featured the sale of 107 animals. This year’s event raised $510,000 for 4-H youth, exceeding last year’s $419,957 fundraising total.
Exhibit entries increased in 2023, with 2,011 exhibitors submitting 7,506 entries in departments including livestock, poultry, flowers, sewing, art, quilts, fiber, and many more.
A 2,023.5 pound pumpkin grown by Dale Marshall of Anchorage won the 2023 Alaska State Fair pumpkin weigh-off.
Crops exhibitors showcased the fruits of their labor at the 2023 fair, setting four new state records, including hot pepper, leek, rhubarb, and horseradish. A 2,023.5 pound pumpkin took first place in the 17th Alaska’s Midnight Sun Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off, while a 113 pound cabbage earned top honors at the 27th Annual Giant Cabbage Weigh-Off.
In partnership with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources Division of Agriculture, the fair honored Bo Varsano and Marja Smets as the 2023 Farm Family of the Year. Varsano and Smets own and operate Farragut Farm, located approximately 35 miles north of Petersburg by boat.
The Gathering Place venue was once again a hub for performances, demonstrations, and vendors focused on showcasing and celebrating Alaska Native culture. Artists, performers, elders, craftspeople, and fair visitors came together to enjoy a wide range of cultural events, including traditional dance performances, interactive storytelling, seal skinning and tasting, Native Youth Olympics competitions, and more.
Four new state “giant vegetable” records were set, including hot pepper, leek, rhubarb, and horseradish.
In addition to educating and entertaining fairgoers, supporting the community is also a central part of the fair’s mission. The fair demonstrated that through the 2023 food drives, collecting a total of 4,334 pounds of shelf-stable food items at the gates for the Mat-Su Food Bank. And through the Alaska State Fair Recycles initiative, 36.2 tons of aluminum, plastic, paper, steel, and cardboard was collected. Since 2002, recycling efforts at the fair have diverted 424.9 tons of material from the landfill.
The 2023 Alaska State Fair saw record concert ticket sales.
“I appreciate everyone who came out to enjoy the 2023 Alaska State Fair. People of all ages were drawn here for the great entertainment, carnival rides, animals, events, and activities,” says Alaska State Fair CEO Jeff Curtis. “Behind this success is a combined team of talented staff and volunteers and a supportive statewide community. On behalf of the fair, thank you. We are excited to bring you another wonderful event in 2024.”
Planning is already underway for the 2024 fair, scheduled for August 16 to September 2.
Architecture & Engineering Special Section + Small Business
In the February 2024 issue of Alaska Business, we engineered a special section that inspects the many ways architecture and engineering enrich our lives, from creating beautiful and functional spaces to crafting functional and safe transportation corridors. In addition to the built world in which we live, this issue celebrates small businesses and the many functions they provide, whether they're developing tools in the healthcare industry or opening new dining locations.