PUBLISHED: 5:02 PM on Wednesday, July 16, 2008
'Celebrating 40 Fairs' in Haines, Alaska
HAINES - Southeast Alaskans have had a State Fair close to home for forty years now. What better way to celebrate than attending what organizers hope will be the best fair yet?

The 40th annual Southeast Alaska State Fair will take place July 24 to 27 at the Haines fairgrounds. The fair's theme is "Celebrating 40 Fairs" and everyone is invited to join the festivities.

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  There's even more family fun at the fair this year, with a new children's carnival, backpack puppet workshop, magic shows and more.
"We'd love to have a lot of participation from Juneau, Skagway, Sitka, Petersburg ... all of Southeast," said fair executive director Kelly Hostetler.

Hostetler said fair-goers can expect to see lots of new additions to the fair this year.

"I can't think of anything more we could do (to celebrate 40 fairs)!" she said.

One of the biggest additions is the new Children's Carnival with games and a petting zoo, open daily.

"We've transformed McPherson Barn into a carnival with ten booths with all sorts of really fun stuff," Hostetler said.

Magician Ronnie Hauser of North Carolina will make his Southeast Alaska State Fair debut this year, with shows in a tent behind the barn at 3:30 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

One of the highlights of the 2007 parade was the backpack puppets. This year, puppet maker Diane Arnold will offer a backpack puppet workshop for kids ages seven and up to make their own puppets to wear in the parade. The free workshop is offered Thursday and Friday at 1:00 p.m. at the Kids Stage. Contact the Fair office to sign up.

Also new this year is a 5K and 10K fun run Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m. The $10 registration fee includes a t-shirt and a pancake breakfast after the run, as well as the chance to win one of many prizes and giveaways, including two pairs of Oakley sunglasses.

On the fairgrounds, the ferris wheel, carousel and train will be joined this year by a mechanical bull and sumo wrestling. There will be four sumo suits, so two matches can go on at once.

The National Guard will have a climbing wall and obstacle course. The Black Hawk helicopter will also be on the fairgrounds.

The Fisherman's Rodeo is back for a second year. Other competitions include the annual logging show, horseshoe tournaments, volleyball tournament and a golf tournament.

As usual, there is a full line-up of main stage entertainment, including musicians from Haines, Juneau, Sitka and Fairbanks; and the Yukon, Alberta and Ontario, Canada. The nationally-ranked Juneau Jumpers will perform Friday and Saturday.

Barrence Whitfield, a.k.a Barry White, will headline on Saturday night along with Deke Dickerson - who has been called "the best rockabilly guitarist in the world" - and the Ecco-Fonics.

Fair hours are Thursday noon to 8:00 p.m.; Friday noon to 8:00 p.m.; Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 8:00 pm.; and Sunday noon to 4:00 p.m. Concerts on Thursday, Friday and Saturday begin at 9:00 p.m.

Daily admission is $7 for adults and children ages six and up, $6 for senior citizens and free for children five and under. A four-day pass is $20.

For more information visit, email seakfair@aptalaska.netor call (907) 766-2476.