Friday, September 11, 2015

Alaska and the Giant Vegetables

If you're new around here, you might think I'm a bit bipolar in my feelings for Alaska.  And that's probably true. I was a proud Texan born and raised. Until the Summer of 2014, I never considered the possibility of living elsewhere. I subscribed (and still pretty much do) to the view that Texas is the greatest place in the world.  And then we wound up in Alaska.  In September. Where it rains day in and day out and then turns cold and I started to fall every two seconds from the ice in parking lots. I was definitely not digging Alaska in those months. Then the cold started to fade and we were blessed with spring and a beautiful summer. A summer where my hair didn't frizz the moment I stepped outdoors and where I actually wanted to be outside. I found a running community and beautiful trails and learned to appreciate (ok, actually love) the constant sunshine. I noticed the beautiful scenery at every turn and learned to appreciate Alaska for what it is and not what it's not. One of our guests this summer said it best when they said "Alaska is a state of mind."

When I meet people new to the area and can tell they are struggling to love Alaska, I caution them to give it some time.  And to embrace the adventure and laugh at the Alaskan.

Nathanial and I went to the Alaska State Fair a few weekends ago. I was excited to go back to see how our view of it changed after living in Alaska for a year. This time I was determined to have lower expectations (there's a statement you don't hear often) and to find the unique elements.

On the way to the fair, we experienced the "worst traffic."  Traffic in Alaska is anything longer than 4 cars - which I'm totally ok with.   Lots of people were on the one highway heading to the State Fair.

The feel of the fair reminds me of the county fair in the small town I grew up in. From parking on the grass to the ride section being the most happening part of the whole thing. Anyone remember the Gravitron?

We made the mistake of getting pulled pork sandwiches for lunch. One day I will remember that all barbecue (especially the kind not in the South) is not created equal.

For dessert, I chose a triple berry cream puff.

Then we headed over to the lumberjack show.  It was emceed by Timber Tina who made sure to teach the crowd the traditional lumberjack cheer of "YO-HO!"  Who know the YOLO movement was inspired by logging camps? Three lumberjacks competed in all kinds of events from log rolling, to axe throwing.

Next we checked out the Rat Races. We stumbled upon this booth last year and knew to bring change for it this year.  Gambling isn't legal in Alaska unless you're a local Elks lodge and put a rat on a roulette wheel then it's fine.  The bets are .25 with a 1.50 maximum. My favorite part of this was how everyone kept cheering for the rat to run to a certain color. "Yellow, Stewart. Run to yellow." This was especially funny seeing as how a kid from the crowd would pick the name of the rat at random and then moments later everyone would be cheering said name. Clearly that wasn't a great strategy.

After our quarters were spent, we decided to check out the exhibit hall.  The Alaska State Fair is unique in that it gives out the least number of prizes for livestock.  The big winners? Vegetables!

There were several other categories unique to Alaska. Like the Reddest Red Flower Contest.

And the hottest pepper. Complete with do not handle sign.

There were some very interesting animals on display.

And interesting art too.

We saw an entertaining jousting show.  The announcer was quick to point out that  unlike any dinner theater show, this was full contact. The knights couldn't decide if they wanted to be modern or medieval. So they picked rock songs as intros but then wore traditional knight suits.  It was $10 well spent.

We headed home after the jousting.

I was amused by this sign on the way out.

And didn't hate this view on the drive.

Until next time, Alaska State Fair.

(Photo courtesy of Alaska State Fair.)

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